Irish Art lies at the heart of the Ulster Museum collections. Light from the West focuses on the period after 1870, and includes many familiar and well-loved paintings. In the years following 1870, a number of ambitious and talented Irish artists travelled abroad to study painting in France and Belgium. Often termed the ‘Irish Impressionists’, these artists painted in the open air and brought a new spirit of naturalism to Irish painting.
By the early 1900s, Irish artists had begun to spend long periods in the West of Ireland, drawn by the wild remoteness of the landscape and the brilliant purity of Atlantic light. There they encountered a traditional way of life that was disappearing. Painters such as Jack Yeats, Paul and Grace Henry, William Orpen and Seán Keating were fascinated by the majestic, luminous landscapes of the West and the hard and resilient lives of its people.
Irish artists also continued to live and paint abroad and in more cosmopolitan settings. Lavery’s paintings of Morocco and the private world of his London studio are among his most intimate and evocative works.