Newly unveiled Seán Keating painting sheds light on early history of State, says Martin

Work by Irish artist, titled The Window, acquired by Cork’s Crawford Art Gallery at auction from private seller with Government support

Tánaiste Micheál Martin has hailed the acquisition by the Crawford Art Gallery of a work by renowned Irish painter, Seán Keating, as shedding further light on the cultural development of the early Irish State as it sought to establish its own identity following independence.

Mr Martin said The Window differed from Keating’s most famous work, The Men of the South, capturing those who secured Irish freedom in the War of Independence in that it depicts his wife May reading at home but nonetheless it played a part in establishing an Irish cultural identity.

“I am honoured to preside over the unveiling of The Window by iconic Irish artist Seán Keating, who has been pivotal in capturing the difficult journey taken to achieve the Irish State and this painting was first shown in 1924 at the Aonach Tailteann,” he said at the weekend.

“That was the sporting and cultural festival held to showcase the strengths of a new nation drawing on its proud history, culture and traditions. So, as we approach the end of the Decade of Centenaries, it is fitting that the Crawford Art Gallery can put this wonderful artwork on public display.”


The painting, which went on display to the public at the gallery on Monday morning, was acquired by the Crawford Art Gallery at auction from a private seller with support from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin said as minister with responsibility for culture and the arts, she was committed to enhancing access to and engagement with national cultural institutions and the artworks and artefacts under their care.

“In this regard, I commend Crawford Art Gallery for acquiring this painting and growing the Seán Keating collection. I am sure that this addition will quickly win the hearts and minds of visitors to the Gallery, ensuring that it remains a vital part of Ireland’s cultural and tourism infrastructure.”

One of 10 works exhibited by Keating at the 1924 Aonach Tailteann, the first major sporting event in Ireland following the Civil War, The Window brings to 13 the number of works by Keating now held in the Crawford collection and its acquisition was welcomed by Crawford Art Gallery Director, Mary McCarthy.

“This work adds a new dimension to the Sean Keating collection at Crawford. Its subject matter is tender and timeless, and it is very modern in nature, despite being 100 years old in 2024. We look forward to seeing it on public display and to seeing our audience engage with it,” she said.

“Keating is best known for his depictions of the War of Independence and Civil War, including Men of the South and An Allegory. Though painted the same year, The Window marks a departure from these political subjects – it is a gentle, affectionate depiction of his wife, May, at a window reading.”

Chair of the Crawford Art Gallery, Rose McHugh thanked Ms Martin and her department for their support and said it was “important that these works can be seen in Ireland on public display and that they can be conserved for future generations.”

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times