Seeing Ireland

Experience Irish Art and Culture as it was exhibited to the world in January 1922.


About the project

In early 1922 the Irish State organised a seminal art exhibition at a fashionable art gallery in Paris: Galerie Barbazanges. The Exposition D’Art Irlandais launched the emerging Irish nation on the world stage. Visitors to this site can visit an immersive recreation of the exhibition and, for the first time in 100 years, experience Irish art and culture as it was exhibited at a key moment in the history of the nation.

In January 1922, as the Irish State was transitioning to independence, the Irish government participated in the World Congress of the Irish Race in Paris. This ambitious state-building event included conference sessions, lectures, concerts and drama. The centrepiece was an exhibition of Irish visual arts showcasing oil paintings, sculptures, stained glass and textiles from artists such as Sarah Purser, Jack B Yeats, Harry Clarke, Sean Keating, Lily Yeats, John Lavery, Mary Swanzy, and Paul Henry, who all went on to form the canon of Irish art. The exhibition was an early deployment of soft power and cultural diplomacy with Irish art being utilised to rebrand postcolonial Ireland and show the world what the nation aspired to be.

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