Crawford Art Gallery announces major donation of art from The Port of Cork

A major donation of unique maritime artworks has been gifted to Crawford Art Gallery by The Port of Cork Company.

The significant collection amassed over years consists of 17 maritime paintings, including works from George Mounsey Wheatley Atkinson (1806-1884), Henry Albert Hartland, Robert Lowe Stopford, and Seán Keating RHA.

Also included in the generous donation is a Ship’s Register (1912) from The Cork Harbour Commissioners which includes a page showing the Titanic and Lusitania, an illuminated address to CS Parnell (1889) and a silver Admiralty Oar (1686).

Most notable among the collection are 11 maritime paintings by George Mounsey Wheatley Atkinson. A former ship’s carpenter, Atkinson painted marine views and vessels that provide great insights into the shipping of the time and glimpses of a thriving harbour.

The Port of Cork
George Mounsey Wheatley Atkinson, Steamship Sirius, c.1843.

I wish to thank the Port of Cork for this generous donation to the National Collection. This gift further augments the Crawford Art Gallery’s rich collection which has expanded in recent times, providing a wealth of maritime paintings for the public to enjoy.

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin T.D.

As the offices of the Port of Cork Company move from the city centre, the custodianship of this collection will now be vested in Crawford Art Gallery where it can be widely appreciated by visitors, researchers, and other institutions.

The building which now houses the Crawford Art Gallery was originally built, in 1724, as Cork’s Custom House and recalls the ties between the commercial success of the port and the development of Cork city in the early 18th and 19th centuries. 

This donation to the Crawford Art Gallery significantly enhances the Gallery’s maritime collection and greatly strengthens the connection to the building’s maritime past.

rsz keating port of cork
Seán Keating, View of the Port of Cork, c.1960

The Gallery expects to exhibit a selection of these paintings in 2022 and to make them available for research.

We consider this to be a very fine collection and one that would be extraordinarily difficult to replicate. The collection contains a number of extremely rare and historically important items which would be highly unlikely to ever appear on the open market again – in particular the silver Court of Admiralty Oar of Cork Harbour dating to 1686, which is unique without comparison and therefore irreplaceable. This donation to the Crawford Art Gallery will further preserve Cork’s maritime heritage.

Conor Mowlds, Chief Commercial Officer, Port of Cork

The Crawford Art Gallery collection now comprises over 3,000 works, ranging from eighteenth-century Irish and European painting and sculpture to contemporary film and photography.

As well as the purchase and receipt of donated artworks throughout the years, the collection has been greatly enhanced and expanded through the Gibson Bequest (1919), Fr. McGrath Bequest (1998), Great Southern Collection (2006), and part of the AIB Art Collection (2012).

Most recently Crawford Art Gallery expanded its collection of contemporary works by adding 39 artists.

Lead image: George Moundsey Wheatley Atkinson, Naval Steam Frigate Moored off Queenstown (with Haulbowline in Background),1838.

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