I wasn’t really sure how I would feel about going to an art gallery. Art has never really been my thing. I’ve always thought of viewing art as something of an upper-class type of thing to do and I’m not an upper-class type of guy. It turns out I was pleasantly surprised, even if our tour was short.
The National Gallery of Ireland itself has well-hidden entrances along both West and Clare Streets. Why they’re hidden, I’m not sure. There is some text on the outside of the building, but there is no ostentatious entrance to it like most of the museums feature – just a pair of black doors set back from the street.
Our tour guide’s name was Rita, whose elegant voice guided us throughout the building for only about 50 minutes. I felt as if we’d been shorted on the tour since ours began at 1, and she had another beginning at 2. While she went into detail about a handful of paintings, I wouldn’t have minded hearing about a few more. My guess is she showed us the best of the best, though.
The first piece we saw was Kitchen Maid with the Supper at Emmaus by Diego Velasquez. It was what I’m calling a reaction piece to the original Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio. Instead of focusing on Jesus breaking the bread, Velasquez used the unusual angle of viewing the kitchen maid helping prepare the meal. The maid looked shocked, very old, and had a darker complexion than usually associated with Jesus.
Rita then guided us to some paintings that had an “ism” associated with it. Impressionism. Post-impressionism. Post-modern impressionism. I stopped listening after the first few. While Rita went on about the “isms,” I was busy taking note of the tacky frames in which these pictures were hung. I thought they were gawdy, but Gabby said she liked gawdy so she was into them. I also thought it was weird why paintings only hung on the walls while there was lots of open space in the middle of the rooms. I figured it might be like a museum, where they try to cram as much stuff in as possible. When Rita was concluding her spiel on “isms,” I joined in to hear enough that artists never actually labeled themselves anything, but that it was other people who did.
Rita was very knowledgeable of the paintings she showed us, which totaled around five. I saw she had a notebook with a bunch of scribbles on its pages, but never saw her look at it once. I’m assuming that was the fountain of her knowledge. Today, she didn’t need that fountain as wisdom spewed from her gray-haired head.
My favorite piece was “The Opening of the Sixth Seal,” which I wrote about in another blog entry.
I’m not sure if it was the day or not, but there didn’t seem to be too many people visiting the gallery this Saturday afternoon. Usually it was just pairs of people might walk by our group of 20 or so. I thought more people would be out today, since all of the other museums we’ve been to felt really crowded this week.
I later found out that everybody in Dublin was shopping at Penneys on O’Connell Street.