Like Alice Neel, you are open to new possibilities, meet challenges with creativity, and feel most comfortable around people.
Neel lived and worked in New York city. While she painted many street-scenes and still-lifes, she is best-known for her realist portraits of friends, neighbours, and strangers.
In December 1934, Neel's partner destroyed most of her work in a jealous rage and she spent the next week in a West 42nd Street hotel; it was there that she painted this snowy cityscape.
Looking northwards, the view shows the distinctive roof of Holy Cross Church in the immediate foreground. Touches of red indicate lights on theatre frontages, while abbreviated black stokes delineate anonymous people coming and going below.
This painting marks a new beginning for Neel.
Artwork details: Alice Neel (1900-1984), Cityscape, 1934. Oil on canvas. Purchased, 2018. NGI.2018.10
Like Sam Beckett, you have a different way of thinking and a way with words, not to mention sharp style!
Photographer John Haynes made these portraits of playwright and writer Samuel Beckett (1906-1989) during rehearsals for Not I, first performed at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in 1973. Haynes took up photography in 1963 after seeing Henri Cartier-Bresson’s book Les Européens. He spent two years working for The Sunday Times before specialising in theatre photography.
Artwork details: John Haynes, Samuel Beckett (in dark glasses), Royal Court Theatre, 1973. Gelatin silver print. Presented, John Haynes, 2000. NGI.2013.20
Like the academic painter John Lavery, you look to the past for your cues and refuse to be swayed by new fads and trends.
This portrait depicts Lavery’s daughter Eileen, aged 9, in her Communion dress. The painting’s colouring, its contrast of light and shadow, and the girl’s pose were inspired by the work of Diego Velázquez. It also reflects the influence of James Whistler’s Harmony in Grey and Green, Miss Cicely Alexander of 1872 (Tate, London), which Lavery knew well. Lavery would go on to become one of Europe's most celebrated portraitists, and a key figure in artistic, social and political circles in London, and beyond.
Artwork details: John Lavery (1856-1941), Her First Communion, 1902. Oil on canvas. Purchased, with the support of the Friends of the National Gallery of Ireland, 2018 (part Dargan Fund). NGI.2018.35
You value the tradition of the past, don't shy away from a challenge, and always pay attention to details and precision.
Printmaker Layton used mezzotint, a complex print technique usually associated with the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, to make this striking image of pelicans fighting. She exploits the richness and tonal subtly of mezzotint engraving to create a dramatic composite image. Regarded as a time-consuming and technically challenging technique, mezzotint is a manière noire process, in which the image is worked from dark to light.
Artwork details: Aoife Layton (b.1979), Clash, 2018. Mezzotint on paper. Purchased, 2019. NGI.2019.7
Like this etching, you are bright and full of energy. You’re an action-oriented individual and love to work with others on new projects.
Mary Farl Powers, a groundbreaking printmaker, moved from the USA to Ireland with her family in 1951. She was a founding member of Aosdána and served as a director of the Graphic Studio, Dublin, for many years. This large etching is the last that she made before her early death, aged 43. Though reluctant to share much about meaning and inspiration in her work, she told a fellow artist that this work was a self-portrait. Seeing herself as an abstract artist, she wrote: ‘I don’t create an image of a thing, but, I hope, a thing in itself.’
Artwork details: Mary Farl Powers (1948–1992), June, 1991. Etching on paper. Purchased, 2019. NGI.2019.113
Like this pioneering photographer, you have a wide circle of friends and your home is a place for dinner parties, lively debate and creativity.
Cameron received her first camera as a gift in 1863, at the age of 48. She ventured into photography with a passion. Her home was a focal point for bohemian artists, writers, poets and scientists, and she made portraits of many. She also used her family and friends as models for scenes based on historic and literary subjects. This photograph is inspired by Robert Browning’s poem ‘Sordello’ (1840). The models were Mary Ryan, Cameron’s housemaid, and Sir Henry John Stedman Cotton.
Artwork details: Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879), Browning’s Sordello (Henry John Stedman Cotton and Mary Ryan), 1867. Albumen print. Purchased, 2019. NGI.2019.330
Like this charming painting, you are a warm individual who is in tune with the feelings and needs of others. You shy away from confrontation, but will stand up for the people you love.
Margaret Clarke was an ambitious and successful artist, a business woman, and a devoted mother to her three children. This painting depicts her eldest child, Ann (1917–1985). From 1922, the family (including Margaret's husband Harry) lived at 48 North Circular Road in Dublin. Margaret frequently painted her children, creating an intimate visual record of their young lives from infancy through childhood.
Following her husband's death, in 1931, she became director of the Harry Clarke Studios, determined to maintain the business and her husband's artistic legacy.
Artwork details: Margaret Clarke (1884–1961), Girl Praying, c.1925. Oil on canvas. Presented, Mr Leo Donnelly, in memory of KathleenO’Brien and her daughter Mary Donnelly, 2019. NGI.2019.40
Like this simple scene of domestic order, you enjoy harmony and aim to avoid controversy.
Whelan was best known as a portraitist, but he also painted contemporary genre scenes. The kitchen setting for this work may have been Whelan’s family home on Eccles Street, Dublin, which was also a hotel run by his mother. While the scene is set in the twentieth century, the room, still-life arrangements of pots and pans, and women’s costumes reflect the influence of seventeenth-century Dutch genre painting.
Artwork details: Leo Whelan (1892-1956), Midday Meal, 1930. Oil on canvas. Presented, 2011. NGI.2011.12
Like Keating, you’re concerned with both national and world affairs. You have a strong sense of justice, and don’t shy away from difficult conversations.
In this painting, Keating looked beyond national themes to the wider world. He began it in the aftermath of the Wall Street Crash just as the Great Depression was beginning to take hold. An anxious man balances precariously, high above city skyscrapers. He bears hats and accessories, including a gas mask, a bishop’s mitre, a military helmet, and a judge’s wig. Keating said that the picture ‘might be described as a criticism of man’s claim to sapience, expressed in terms of hats, or it might be called a portrait of the hat-fearing animal’.
Artwork details: Seán Keating (1889-1977), Homo Sapiens An Allegory of Democracy, 1929-1930. Oil on canvas. Purchased, 2017. NGI.2017.25
Like this painting, you are a sensitive soul, who is keenly aware of the passing of time and of the importance of making the most of life.
Patrick Hennessy spent his early childhood in Cork and then lived in Scotland for many years. He returned to Ireland in 1939. He was a prolific painter and exhibited widely. His realist compositions have a cool grey tonality that can make them appear eerily still. Hennessy often placed objects and figures in odd juxtapositions, to imply surreal meanings or hidden narratives. Here, a classical bust rests against an evergreen tree, behind two pink roses. The painting appears to be a reflection on time and mortality.
Artwork details: Patrick Hennessy (1915-1980), The Yew Walk. Oil on canvas. Purchased, 2018. NGI.2018.58
Your friends have to describe you in one word. The word they choose is:
You’re in a gallery with a friend. What are you most likely to say: