Bank of America Merrill Lynch announced that through its Art Conservation Programme, the company will provide funding to the prestigious National Gallery of Ireland
to facilitate the restoration of the iconic The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife (1854).
The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife is one of the most important and popular Irish pieces in the National Gallery's collection. Painted by the accomplished historical painter, Daniel Maclise (1806-1870), it has challenged, inspired and confounded for generations. The picture, which is viewed by approximately 750,000 people every year, depicts an event traditionally regarded as pivotal in Ireland's history.
The conservation of The Marriage of Aoife and Strongbow is one of 10 international projects being announced this week that will benefit from the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Art Conservation Programme's inaugural year. Funded by the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, the programme will not only restore works of art that display important cultural and historical value throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa - but will also raise awareness of the important role that conservation plays in ensuring that works of art are preserved, displayed and enjoyed by future generations.
Peter Keegan, Country Executive for Ireland at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said: "We are privileged to support the National Gallery of Ireland in conserving this incredible piece of Irish history, The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife. Funding from the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Art Conservation programme will ensure that this vital artistic treasure can be conserved to the highest standards and enjoyed by the public for many more years to come."
The Maclise painting will undergo a preliminary technical examination conducted with the most up-to-date non-invasive procedures. Photographic documentation, identification and examination of elements prior to conservation treatments will make it possible to gain an understanding of Maclise's technique as well as identifying any problems associated with this.
Investigations carried out with ultraviolet and infrared reflectography and radiography will enable conservators to investigate areas of over-painting, as well as any original under drawings and alterations to the composition. The painting, which presents extraordinary conservation challenges because of its size, requires a selection of structural treatments. There will be an opportunity to view webcam footage of the conservation work in progress on the Gallery's website www.nationalgallery.ie.
Dr. Brendan Rooney, Curator of Irish art at the National Gallery of Ireland, said: "Historical subjects of this kind are relatively rare in Irish art, and Cork-born Maclise's technical ability was exceptional. The painting is as much a grandiose record of the artist's modish fascination for antiquarian detail and drama as it is an account of a momentous historic event. It has been studied by scholars of numerous disciplines, from archaeologists and historians to botanists, but also appeals to a general audience who realise its artistic brilliance."
Raymond Keaveney, Director of the National Gallery of Ireland, added: "An important part of the Gallery's remit is to care for and maintain the collection for future generations. We are most grateful to Bank of America Merrill Lynch for their support with this project."
Rena De Sisto, Global Arts and Culture executive, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said: "By helping to restore the art of many nations, we hope to elevate awareness of cultural traditions around the world and inspire respect and interest across cultural boundaries. While new technologies have made art conservation safer and more effective, the process consumes a significant portion of museums' budgets. This is a propitious time to actively engage in preserving these treasures."
The Bank of America Merrill Lynch Art Conservation Programme is an extension of the company's existing global commitment to supporting the arts, demonstrated by a multi-tiered programme of sponsorships and grants as well as loans to museums from its own collection.