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Title: James Joyce's Ireland (Graveyard), 1964
Date: 1964
Medium: Gelatin silver print
Dimensions:
15 x 22 cm
Signed: on verso: Ruth Hartmann (The Artist's Wife)
Credit Line: Purchased, 2018
Object Number: NGI.2018.119
DescriptionErich Hartmann visited Dublin for the first time in 1964. He had already explored the city extensively in his imagination, ever since he first read James Joyce’s Ulysses. But now he came in reality, and he brought his cameras. Eager to understand the strange mix that spawned great artistry but repelled the artist, he wandered the city searching out every place and incident of Joyce’s fictional June day sixty years before. This search resulted in more than an evocation of a novel. It is a record of Erich Hartmann’s own journey of discovery through Dublin, captured in over 3,000 images.
Here, we are presented with a sombre graveyard scene. Encircled by a number of tall trees with wafer thin branches are rows of tombstones that stand erect in silence to the left, right, in front and likely behind. While overgrown and unkempt, many have doubtless survived centuries of weathering. A number of individuals visiting the graves of those they’ve lost are scattered throughout the middle-ground of the photograph, all with their backs turned to the photographer whose presence they are probably unaware of. Toward the background of the photograph is group of men and women standing around a grave in front of a mausoleum who are likely gathering to pay their respects at a burial. Silence pervades the scene even with the presence of people. The graveyard is both full - full of stone, moss and trees - and empty at the same time.
ProvenanceErich and Ruth Hartmann, 1964-2007; Clair by Kahn Gallery, 2007; purchased, Clair by Kahn Gallery, Zurich, 2018