Dr Robert Whan, Director of Armagh Robinson Library visited the exhibition For the Love of the Master: 25 Artists Fascinated by Piranesi recently, which features volumes of prints on loan from the Library.
The exhibition is presented by the Office of Public Works (OPW) at both the Coach House Gallery at Dublin Castle and the Casino Marino. It includes artwork by 25 contemporary artists from 11 countries who were inspired by the renowned Italian artist, Giovanni Battista Piranesi.
The exhibition will run until 18 September 2022. Admission is free.
Originally conceived to mark the tercentenary of Piranesi’s birth in 2020, the launch was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now open, the exhibition is spread between two iconic venues – the Coach House Gallery at Dublin Castle and the Casino Marino.
Between his birth near Venice in 1720 and his death in Rome in 1778, Piranesi established his enduring reputation as an etcher, engraver, designer, architect, archaeologist and theorist. A link exists between Piranesi and Ireland through James Caulfield, 1st Earl of Charlemont (1728–1799) who had estates in both Dublin and County Armagh.
While undertaking a Grand Tour of Europe, Charlemont met Piranesi in Rome. Piranesi was assembling portfolios of prints and Charlemont agreed to be a patron. The result was the magnificent Antichità Romane (‘Roman Antiquities’). A subsequent falling out between the two individuals and Charlemont’s withdrawn patronage, however, sparked a very public disagreement.
It was at Marino that Charlemont decided to build his magnificent Casino, with views over Dublin Bay, as a lasting monument and memory of his Grand Tour. The Neoclassical building, designed by Sir William Chambers, is an architectural masterpiece and it is rather apt that it is now one of the venues for the exhibition.
It is fitting too that the exhibition should feature a copy of the four-volume folio Antichità Romane (the commission that caused the quarrel between artist and patron), loaned from the collection of Armagh Robinson Library, Northern Ireland’s oldest public library and an accredited museum.
Speaking about the exhibition, Dr Whan said,
The loaned volumes are part of Armagh Robinson Library’s founding collection, bequeathed by Archbishop Richard Robinson who established the Library in 1771. They form part of the Archbishop’s exquisite collection of over 4,000 sixteenth- to eighteenth-century prints, still retained in the Library. At the Library we are committed to sharing the collections with as wide an audience as possible. Celebrating the lives and legacies of Lord Charlemont and the incomparable Piranesi, this partnership between Armagh and Dublin provides a great opportunity for new audiences to enjoy Piranesi’s original works, alongside an international array of contemporary art which has been inspired by them.
Mary Heffernan, General Manager at Dublin Castle (co-curator of the exhibition along with Dutch art historian, Hélène Bremer), stated,
The generous loan of Piranesi Antichità Romane and Vedute of Rome from Armagh Robinson Library allowed OPW create a fitting tercentenary tribute to the great Piranesi. We are very grateful. We sincerely look forward to further collaborations between our two institutions into the future.