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Work of the Week | 13 September 2021

James Mahony, The Official Opening of 'The National Exhibition of the Arts, Manufactures and Products of Ireland' Cork, 1852

CAG.3160 James Mahony, The Official Opening of 'The National Exhibition of the Arts, Manufactures and Products of Ireland' Cork, 1852, watercolour on paper, 74 x 66 cm. Presented, Friends of Crawford Art Gallery, 2021.

We’re getting in the mood for Culture Night and our new exhibitions with this WORK OF THE WEEK!

The Official Opening of 'The National Exhibition of the Arts, Manufactures and Products of Ireland' Cork (1852) is a large watercolour by James Mahony. Recently – and generously – acquired for the collection by the Friends of Crawford Art Gallery, it is of historical, national, and local significance. 

It depicts a building designed by John Benson for the National Exhibition of the Arts, Manufactures, and Products of Ireland held in Cork in 1852. The exhibition took place at the Corn Exchange site on Albert Quay where Cork City Hall now stands.

Opened on 10 June 1852 by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland – Archibald Montgomerie, 13th Earl of Eglinton – the exhibition took place in the immediate aftermath of the Great Irish Famine (An Gorta Mór). Three halls of the temporary structure were dedicated to industrial exhibits, while a fourth was dedicated to the fine arts and featured works by James Barry, John Butts, Lady Elizabeth Deane, Nathaniel Grogan, John Hogan, and Daniel Maclise.

Three years after the exhibition, the structure was dismantled and re-erected on a site adjacent to the present Crawford Art Gallery. Originally called The Athenaeum, it later became known as Cork Opera House but was destroyed by fire in 1955.

James Mahony (1810-1879) was one of the featured artists at the National Exhibition in 1852. A co-founder of the Cork Art Union, he is perhaps best remembered for his influential Irish Famine images published in The Illustrated London News during the 1840s.

This watercolour is displayed in our historic Penrose Rooms (Floor 1).

Tune into The Arts House with Elmarie Mawe on Cork’s 96FM and C103FM every Sunday morning as Conor Tallon chats with assistant curator Michael Waldron about each WORK OF THE WEEK! Listen back to this week's chat here:

Crawford Art Gallery · WORK OF THE WEEK 59 JAMES MAHONY - THE OFFICIAL OPENING

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