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Lavery On Location Celebrates ‘Homecoming’ at Ulster Museum

Photo caption: Pictured left to right in the exhibition gallery is Kathryn Thomson, Chief Executive of National Museums NI and Anne Stewart, Senior Curator of Art.

Two women dressed in black outfits standing in front of paintings by Sir John Lavery.

A significant exhibition, Lavery On Location has arrived at Ulster Museum. It includes over seventy works by Belfast-born painter, Sir John Lavery (1856-1941).

This exhibition stems from a remarkable partnership between National Gallery of Ireland and National Galleries of Scotland. Following its successful run at the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin, Lavery On Location’s journey to the Ulster Museum gives credence to Lavery’s Belfast roots as he was born in North Queen Street, and had a deep regard for his native city.   

In 1929, Lavery gave 34 of his paintings, representing all periods of his career, to the newly opened Belfast Museum and Art Gallery, now the Ulster Museum, reinforcing his connection to Belfast and the museum. This much-loved collection includes some of his finest portraits, as well as work painted during his time in Morocco, France and America. 

Lavery On Location highlights the artist’s impressions of the people and places he encountered during a life filled with travel, featuring realistic portraits, genre scenes, and landscapes from as far afield as Morocco and Palm Springs to Lough Derg in County Donegal. It offers a unique opportunity for art enthusiasts - and those yet to experience Lavery - into the captivating and lesser-known artworks of his career.

The exhibition includes ‘Windy Day’- a magnificent example of Lavery’s skill using delicate brushstrokes to convey a sense of movement and energy, reflecting the changing atmosphere of the weather. 

Anne Stewart, Senior Curator of Art at National Museums NI said

"Hosting Lavery On Location at the Ulster Museum is a landmark moment for Belfast and holds special significance considering our connection with Lavery, who generously donated a carefully chosen collection of paintings, from all periods of his career, to our museum. 

"The exhibition celebrates Lavery's connection to his birthplace of Belfast, offering visitors new insights and a fresh perspective on his work by bringing together an array of his most notable paintings, including loans from the Musée Rodin and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, and many works from private collections not usually seen by the public. We are thrilled to provide visitors to the Ulster Museum with the opportunity to access these artworks.” 

In addition to his artistic achievements, Sir John Lavery holds a unique place in history as the only Irishman to receive the Freedom of both Belfast and Dublin in the inter-war period, in a divided Ireland.

Kathryn Thomson, Chief Executive of National Museums NI, emphasises the importance of recognising local talent and utilising partnerships to collaborate on such a major exhibition. She said: 

“Lavery On Location is collaborative masterpiece, thanks to our valued partnerships with National Gallery of Ireland and National Galleries of Scotland. This exhibition pays homage to Sir John Lavery's enduring legacy in Belfast and beyond by showcasing an array of his art, including exclusive pieces from private collectors.

“I look forward to welcoming visitors to Ulster Museum to celebrate and experience this wonderful exhibition for themselves.”

Paintings by Sir John Lavery, hung on a blue painted wall inside a lit up gallery
Lavery On Location is a touring exhibition and has been curated by Professor Kenneth McConkey, the acknowledged authority on Lavery, and Dr Brendan Rooney, Head Curator and Curator of Irish Art at the National Gallery of Ireland. The exhibition is accompanied by a lavishly illustrated catalogue by Professor McConkey, which is available to buy in the gallery shop.