America’s Eye: Irish Paintings from the Collection of Brian P. Burns

Thursday, September 25, 1997
Sunday, January 4, 1998

Naturally, the place itself—the sea and the land, the life and character of rural Ireland—provides a continuing and changing inspiration to Irish artists, ranging from Paul Henry’s justly famous evocation of Connemara to Sir John Lavery’s polished panoramas of the Lakes of Killarney. Irish artists, like Irish writers, were shaped and influenced as well by broader currents in European art and thought. This exhibition featured a selection of over seventy works spanning the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century and demonstrated some of the central themes in Irish art. In addition to paintings, the exhibition included an extensive survey of Irish books and manuscripts drawn from the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the Burns Library of Boston College, and from the Center’s own holdings.

Brian P. Burns, a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross and Harvard Law School, is a prominent California businessman and the leading collector of Irish art in the United States. He compiled a remarkably comprehensive collection of Irish painting of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which in many ways closely parallels and reflects Irish realities in the brilliant recall of the landscape and sometimes of the much harsher realities of the Irish experience, both social and political. 

The core of the exhibition was organized and first shown at the McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College in 1996 and later, to great acclaim, at the Hugh Lane Municipal gallery of Modern Art in Dublin. At Yale it was accompanied by a semester-long colloquium on Irish and British social, cultural, political, and historical issues.


Entrance Court, Yale Center for British Art, Photograph by Richard Caspole

Boston College Museum of Art:
January 26–May 19, 1997

Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, Dublin:
June 19–August 25, 1997

Yale Center for British Art:
September 25, 1997–January 4, 1998