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Between 1637 and 1644, the Dutch artist Frans Post travelled to Dutch territories in what is now part of Brazil to record the exotic flora and fauna found there. The paintings he made after his return to Europe became celebrated and were the first time many had seen creatures so far from their personal experience. These finished works are now in galleries around the world.
The original drawings on which the paintings were based were presumed to have been lost, but were recently discovered in an archive in Haarlem. It is these that form the basis for this exhibition, on loan to the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin. For those unable to visit, the reproduction in this slim volume that accompanies it gives an excellent indication of the closeness and accuracy of Post’s observation as well as the opportunity to compare the drawings with the conventionality – in European terms – of the full paintings.
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This nicely produced and generously illustrated book is the catalogue of an exhibition at the National Gallery of Ireland between July and October 2018.
Born in County Roscommon, O’Conor (1860-1940) moved to France and divided his time between Paris and rural art colonies such as Grez and Pont-Aven. This brought him into contact with a variety of influences at a time when art movements were developing and groups forming. An initial glance at his work tends to place him as an Impressionist or Post-Impressionist, but wider contact is evident. The exhibition shows his work alongside that of Gaugin, Van Gogh, Emile Bernard and others.
There are 66 illustrations in the book, mostly by O’Conor, but also others, reflecting the catholic nature of the exhibition. Drawings and etchings as well as paintings reflect the variety of media in which the artist worked and many have not previously been publicly exhibited.
Both the exhibition and its catalogue provide an excellent overview of a major artist whose work is perhaps not as widely known as it could be.
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