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WORK OF THE WEEK | 28 April 2020

CAG.309 Muriel Brandt, The Breadline, 1916, c.1950, oil on board, 61 x 38 cm. Purchased, Munster Fine Art Society, 1958 (Gibson Bequest Fund). © the artist’s estate.

We’re marking the 104th anniversary of the Easter Rising (24-29 April 1916) with this WORK OF THE WEEK!

The Breadline, 1916 (c.1950) by Muriel Brandt looks back on a tumultuous time in our history and reflects the associated hardship experienced by Irish civilians. The painting has been described as ‘an interpretation of the aftermath of the Rising, showing the effect it had on the ordinary people of Dublin.’

In the foreground of this busy composition, various children are gathered waiting for the women who queue for bread provided by the Daughters of Charity. Ironically, the Rising had left the nearby Dublin Bread Company building in ruins. Popular memory tells of bread being brought in from unaffected bakeries in County Kildare and elsewhere to relieve the city’s hunger. Identifiable by their traditional habit and large starched cornettes, the Daughters of Charity had a premises on Henrietta Street.

Brandt’s scene plays out against a backdrop of damaged Georgian doorcases, plush furnishings on the street, and the rubble of a city. Surrounded by British armed forces, Nelson’s Pillar dominates in the distance as a potent symbol of continued colonial rule.

Long before it was commonplace, however, Muriel Brandt (1909-1981) here recovers women’s narratives within a pivotal historic moment. The artist’s perspective is particularly noteworthy too given that she painted this work against the hardships and deprivations of the 1940s and 50s.

Tune in to The Arts House on Cork’s 96FM every Sunday morning as Conor Tallon chats with assistant curator Michael Waldron about each WORK OF THE WEEK!

Tune in to 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: 

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