Union and display in nineteenth-century Ireland
in Cultural identities and the aesthetics of Britishness
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This chapter examines the relationship between the condition of political union and artistic display in the Ireland of the nineteenth century. It focuses on two exhibitions of English paintings that attracted considerable public attention in Dublin and Belfast. The two images, Porter's panorama of the 'Storming of Seringapatam' and Thomas Jones Barker's Secret of England's Greatness, are distinctly partisan, that is, they create a false sense of cultural homogeneity. The Dublin exhibition of 1865, for example, devoted a whole gallery to 'soldiers who had won the Victoria Cross in the Crimea, India and elsewhere'. Art works frequently toured the United Kingdom either in group exhibitions or in small shows such as that enjoyed by the Barker canvas. In 1875, for example, William Holman Hunt's highly acclaimed The Shadow of Death went on show in Dublin and Belfast. Hunt's painting shows Jesus the carpenter, stretching his limbs after a day's labour.

Editor: Dana Arnold
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