When Jesus met John the Baptist – a new exhibition of 16th-century art

Displays include Renaissance works, and art by Mick O’Dea, Sam Keogh and Fergus O’Ryan

A superb series of Renaissance works opens at the National Gallery of Ireland on Saturday, January 29th. Christ and his Cousin: Renaissance Rediscoveries will showcase eight little-known 16th-century Italian paintings. For over a decade, the gallery's head of conservation, Simone Mancini, has carefully treated these paintings to reveal quality that was previously unrecognised.

This colourful display will hang in the Sir Hugh Lane Room at the gallery, depicting scenes of the Madonna and her infant child, Jesus Christ, together with his cousin St John the Baptist.

Displaying warm and playful moments between the infants and the Madonna, the paintings are said to tell the story of an imaginary encounter between a young Christ and his cousin – a meeting that is not referenced in the Bible, which states that the cousins did not meet until later in life.

The artworks are accompanied by four rare volumes from the gallery’s library and archives “some of which were instrumental in defining the development of 16th-century art” according to exhibition notes.


The exhibition, which is a free event and supported by a private donor, runs until May 8th, 2022. If you have not visited the Turner & Place: Landscapes in Light and Detail – also a free event in the gallery – it has just three days remaining as it ends this Monday, January 31st.

Spring exhibitions

Meanwhile around the country many galleries have commenced spring exhibitions. Painter and sculptor Mick O'Dea, whose accolades include being past president of the Royal Hibernian Academy, member of Aosdána, member of the Royal Scottish Academy and past member of the board of governors and guardians of the National Gallery of Ireland, currently has an exhibition at the Hillsboro Fine Art gallery on Parnell Square in Dublin.

Entitled Inside, it includes recent works and others created 15 years ago. "It's a body of work that John Daly [of the gallery] was familiar with and wanted to show together," explains O'Dea. Unlike works for which he is particularly known, these are of interiors and still life, with a particular theme of tables as a subject. As O'Dea explains: "I love to surround myself with furniture I can paint, and I was in search of a nice still life table."

In the end the artist commissioned a Shaker-type table made of cherry wood and created in Maine, in the US, of which he says now “sets me off” in order to paint. Some works were painted in Paris, Portugal and Dublin and the two figurative paintings are a large model of an Irish soldier in Napoleon’s army standing on a table, while another depicts a 500BC Grecian terracotta sculpture – also on a table.

In Dublin, Sam Keogh: Sated Soldier, Sated Peasant, Sated Scribe is now open at the Kerlin Gallery on South Anne's Street, which is a collection of new collages and ceramic works by the artist. With audio accompaniment, the exhibition draws on pre-modern myths and motifs of abundance, including the medieval myth of Cockaigne, the land of plenty where food is so plentiful that it rains cheese. The exhibition runs until February 19th.

It is a year since a long-term lease was secured at 9-10 Patrick Street (Ormston House) in Limerick, and the gallery has recently launched The Limerick Show to kick off the 2022 programme.

Celebrating Limerick’s artistic community, the exhibition will showcase 31 visual artists in disciplines spanning painting, photography, sculpture, printmaking and video. The exhibition runs until February 19th.

Meanwhile in Cork, Odysseys, currently open until April 3rd at the Crawford Art Gallery, marks the centenary of James Joyce’s masterpiece, Ulysses, which was first published in Paris on February 2nd, 1922, and offers an exploration of journeys through art from ancient Greece to 1920’s Samoa with a special focus “on Joyce’s own, often overlooked relationship with Cork”.

Charity art sale

Adam’s of St Stephen’s Green timed online art sale is currently open and will close on Tuesday, February 8th. The auction features a collection of 100 paintings by Fergus O’Ryan which are being sold to benefit Our Lady’s Hospice in Harold’s Cross, Dublin. These constitute a third of the artworks currently in the online sale, and are part of an ongoing charitable donation by the late May O’Ryan.

“Last year there were those that wanted a painting by one of the luminaries of the 1950s/1970s Irish art scene, and of course to obtain a work that was coming directly from the artist’s studio is always a bonus” says James O’Halloran of Adam’s. With continental scenes drawn from O’Ryan’s travels through Europe, there are equally some delightful views painted in Connemara which capture the light of the west, which has captivated so many artists, both Irish and international.

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