Artist as Thief at the Ulster Museum Belfast

2 June 2017 to 19 August 2018

The Belfast-born painter Sir John Lavery (1856-1941) was best known as a celebrated society portraitist. His success was due, in part, to the ideas he adopted from Old Master painting. This exhibition explores Lavery’s debt to the past, showing his work alongside historic painting from the Ulster Museum collection. The title Artist as Thief refers to Picasso’s alleged remark about his own re-working of Old Master painting; ‘good artists copy, great artists steal’. The exhibition is divided into three sections; PowerFamily and Performance, reflecting Lavery’s interests. In 1909, Lavery married Hazel Marytn, a beautiful young American, and together they formed one of the first celebrity couples. Lavery recorded their world as a social and political insider, and during one of the most turbulent periods in British and Irish history, from 19161928, painted the personalities and events he experienced at first hand. In 1929, Lavery donated 34 paintings from all periods of his career to the newly opened Belfast Art Gallery (now the Ulster Museum).