Visual Arts in Dublin
Painting, Sculpture, Printmaking, Photography in Ireland's Capital City.

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Image of James Joyce (1978) by Dublin
artist Louis le Brocquy.

Dublin Visual Arts & Culture

The Dublin Region, previously a County, is the area of Ireland that contains the city of Dublin (the capital of the Irish Republic) and surrounding urban counties. It is situated on the east coast of Ireland in the province of Leinster. It is the third smallest county in Ireland but has a population of 1.5 million. The City of Dublin (from the Irish "Dubh Linn" meaning black pool) is over a thousand years old, and is located at the mouth of the River Liffey.

Today, Dublin is the most important centre of visual arts in Ireland as well as a major cultural and commercial centre within Western Europe, home to many of the top Irish art galleries, cultural venues and art schools, as well as numerous examples of public art including the architectural sculpture The Spire of Dublin, known as the 'spike', created by Ian Ritchie.

Detail Showing The Heads of Lions
and Chalices Spouting Vines.
(The Book of Kells is on display at the library of Trinity College Dublin)

For facts about top prices for
works by artists in Ireland, see:
Most Expensive Irish Paintings.

Early Celtic Arts in Dublin

The National Museum of Ireland (NMI) and Trinity College (TCD) are the home of numerous artistic masterpieces which trace the history of Irish art, and form a vital part of Irish cultural heritage. Art treasures at the NMI include: the Ardagh Chalice, the Derrynaflan Chalice, the Derrynaflan Paten, the Moylough Belt, the Petrie Crown, the Tully Lough Cross and the Tara Brooch, as well as the Broighter Hoard. Many of these treasures would have been lost but for the work of the Royal Irish Academy and the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. Works of art at Trinity College Dublin include: the Book of Kells (800) the most famous illuminated manuscript of the Hiberno-Saxon style or Insular art; the Book of Dimma (620); the Book of Durrow (670) and the Mulling Gospels. These early Christian artworks contain magnificent examples of Celtic designs, with various degrees of ornamentation including precious metals.


Wall of Light Summer (2005) by Dublin
born abstract artist Sean Scully. Works
by Scully can be seen in a special
viewing room in Dublin's Hugh Lane
Gallery. See also Abstract Art.

Study After Velazquez. Portrait of
Pope Innocent X (1950) by Dublin-born
Expressionist painter Francis Bacon.
The artist's Reece Mews Studios can be
seen at the Hugh Lane Gallery.

Growth of Visual Arts in Dublin

Growing prosperity and cultural enlightenment in Dublin during the eighteenth century, led to a noticeable growth in the arts. The Royal Dublin Society was founded in 1731, the Royal Irish Academy in 1785, the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1823 - all of whom helped to foster Irish painting and Irish sculpture.

This process continued in the later nineteenth century with the expansion of the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art (now the National College of Art and Design, NCAD) - one of the best art schools in Europe - the opening of the National Gallery of Ireland (1864), the National Museum of Ireland (1890), and the Hugh Lane Gallery (1908). In addition to these growing collections of traditional and modern artworks, more public art was commissioned: such as the sculptures of Oliver Goldsmith and Edmund Burke in Trinity College and the memorial to Daniel O’Connell, in O’Connell Street.

For a brief guide to Celtic culture
including the early metalworks of the
Celts, see: Celtic Art. For information
about the two earliest styles, which
influenced so many Irish craftsmen
during the golden age of the early Christian era in Ireland, see: Hallstatt
(800-450) and La Tene (450-50 BCE)

For information about the world's
most highly priced works of art
and record auction prices, see:
Top 10 Most Expensive Paintings
Top 20 Most Expensive Paintings

For details of exhibitions & shows
in galleries across Ireland, see:
Irish Art Exhibitions.
For the top living artists,
see: Best Irish Artists/Painters.

Dublin's print museum recounts the
(now defunct) practice of traditional
hot-metal printing. It is situated in
the former garrison chapel at Beggar's
Bush. The ground floor contains
examples of old printing machinery,
including hand presses, hot-metal
typesetting machines and proofing
presses. The earliest equipment is
from the 18th century, one of the
first examples of automation in the
printing craft - a hand caster which
produced a single letter of type. The
mezzanine floor recounts the
progression of printmaking up to
the present day.

For a list of monuments of
cultural or artistic interest, see:
Architectural Monuments Ireland.
Archeological Monuments Ireland.

Art & Culture in Dublin Today

During the twentieth century, the birth of the Irish State added further stimulus to Dublin's cultural reputation, which has been nurtured over the years by successive governments. Today, a number of national initiatives in the arts and heritage continue the process. Bodies such as the Irish Department of Arts, Culture Ireland, and the Irish Arts Council provide a wide range of support for Irish art in general and Irish artists in particular.

In addition, new Dublin institutions like the National Print Museum, the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Chester Beatty Library, the Gallery of Photography (Temple Bar), the expansion of the collections of Irish Art, European Art, Drawings and Watercolours and Sculpture at the National Gallery of Ireland, and the enhancement of the Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, have created a real renaissance in the city. This has led to significant growth in the number and quality of Dublin's art galleries, and enhanced opportunities for Dublin artists, painters and sculptors.

The presence of numerous exhibition centres like the RDS, Ballsbridge has facilitated regular national art exhibitions, showcasing works from new and emerging artists. For example, see Dublin Art Fair.


Handicrafts in Dublin

Craftspeople and crafts within the Dublin area are funded through the Crafts Council of Ireland, based in Kilkenny.

New Forms of Art

The city is also the home of a new type of social painting activity, invented by Dublin artist Deirdre Geraghty, called Art Jam.

Dublin Studios, Cooperatives and Art Groups

The demand for affordable studio space and artistic facilities has fostered a number of cooperative artists groups in the Dublin area. Check online for up-to-date details. Here are a few possibilities.

Art Alley, Malahide
This group of painters exhibit their works at St Sylvester's GAA Hall and in neighboring premises. Paintings changed fortnightly. For details, contact: Padraig O'Brien: 01-845-1367

Merrion Square Artists
Dublin 2
Painters belonging to this group exhibit their watercolours, oil and acrylics paintings in Merrion Square on Sundays during the summer. A very popular set-up, typically booked out for years in advance.

Common Place Studios
10 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2
A multi-purpose arts venue, it incorporates four artist's studios on two floors of a Georgian building. For details, email:

Stoney Batter Studio
North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7

Broadstone Studios
36-40 Upper Dominick, Dublin 7
Phone: 01-830-1950

Fire Station Artists' Studios
9-11, Lower Buckingham Street, Dublin 1
Phone: 01-855-6735

La Catedral Studios
7/11 St. Augustine Street, Dublin 2

Red Stables Studios
St Annes Park, Raheny, Dublin 3
Phone: 01-222-7377

Talbot Gallery and Studios
51 Talbot Street Dublin 1
Phone: 01-855-6599

Note: If you wish to promote an artists group in the Dublin region providing affordable art studio space for painters and/or sculptors, please contact us.

• For more information about Dublin-based visual arts bodies, see: Irish Art Organizations.
• For facts about artists in Leinster, see: Homepage.

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