Although the study of art history in Ireland has long been established, research in the field of Irish art history has been hampered by the difficulty in obtaining key source material on the critical reception of art. This book aims to provide an anthology of sources and documents relating to the history and development of the visual arts in Ireland from the eighteenth century to the present day. The anthology conveys the period from the establishment of the Dublin Society Drawing Schools in 1746 to the opening of the Irish Museum of Modern Art in 1991. Judicious extracts and full texts that inform on attitudes and reactions to both the production of art and its uses in Ireland are included. Public exhibition reviews, comments from private letters and journals as well as polemical and theoretical essays illustrate what was being said and thought about artistic development in Ireland over the past two centuries. A significant achievement of the anthology is that it clearly illustrates the practical and theoretical parallels with both literary and other artistic traditions, which the visual tradition in Ireland enjoys. The publication of these texts in a single volume enables the reader to create useful historical comparisons as well as facilitating the careful examination of historical documents. These features should have particular appeal to students of art history and cultural studies.
Fintan Cullen, Department of Art History, University of Nottingham