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Landmark exhibition for one of Belfast’s finest exports

One of Belfast’s finest exports is making a sort-of homecoming with a significant exhibition of his work.

More than 70 pieces by Sir John Lavery will go on display in the city where he was born in 1859 before he went on to distinguish himself as a painter.

Lavery On Location goes on display at the Ulster Museum later this week as a result of a partnership between National Gallery of Ireland and National Galleries of Scotland.

In 1929, Lavery gave 34 of his paintings, representing all periods of his career, to the then newly opened Belfast Museum and Art Gallery – now the Ulster Museum – which included some of his finest portraits, as well as work painted during his time in Morocco, France and America.

The exhibition will open later this week (National Museums Northern Ireland/PA)
The exhibition will open later this week (National Museums Northern Ireland/PA)

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 Co Donegal.

The exhibition includes Windy Day – described as an example of Sir John’s skill using delicate brushstrokes to convey a sense of movement and energy, reflecting the changing atmosphere of the weather.

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

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 also celebrates Lavery’s connection to 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 Musee Rodin and the Musee 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.”

Kathryn Thomson, chief executive of National Museums NI, said: “Lavery On Location is a 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.”

Lavery On Location will be on display at the Ulster Museum from February 23 until June 9 and is a charging exhibition. For more information and ticket prices visit www.ulstermuseum.org/whats-on/lavery-location.