Works on Paper
Numerically, this section is much the largest in the Fine Art Division. We have a good representative collection of drawings and watercolours, mainly Irish and British, dating from the 17th century to the present day, including ten outstanding drawings by John Henry Fuseli, and work by Turner, John Sell Cotman, John Robert Cozens, Miles Birket Foster and many others There is a small group of Italian drawings by Polidoro da Caravaggio, Pupini and Giovanni Cipriani, and Dutch renaissance and baroque drawings.
The Swiss-born Fuseli, who spent most of his working life in London and became Keeper of the Royal Academy, married Sophia Rawlins of Bath-Easton on 30 July 1788, when she was eighteen and he forty-seven. She outlived him. He drew many portraits of his wife. From these we can trace her gradual transition from the lovely young wife to a domineering virago, as well as the changing hair fashions of the time.
This is perhaps the most striking portrait drawing in the Ulster Museum’s group of ten. The curls of powdered hair are picked out in white chalk.
The unique parts of this section are the 'special collections', i.e, large bodies of work by individual artists, usually with a Belfast or Ulster connexion, e.g. Andrew Nicholl ( over 300 items); Richard Dunscombe Parker ( 170 large watercolours of Irish Birds); Dr James Moore (over 400 items); Rev Narcissus Batt (over 550 items), Mainie Jellett (over 200 items), Kenneth Shoesmith (over 300 items).
Image: Kenneth Shoesmith (1890-1939), The Conway, Liverpool. Reproduced with the kind permission of the Furness Group. Click to enlarge.
This section includes some 17th and 18th century Italian, Dutch and Flemish etchings and engravings, in particular a fine set of Piranesi views of Rome. The great strength, however, lies in the 20th century holdings. In the 1930s the Lady Mabel Annesley donated her important collection of contemporary woodcuts and wood-engravings. There is also a distinguished collection of British etchings of the first half of the 20th century. A collection of contemporary prints, mainly Irish, British, Continental and American, was built up during the 1970 and 80s. There are collections of 20th century posters and contemporary high-quality photographic prints.
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