© Tai-Shan Schierenberg / National Portrait Gallery, London
by Tai-Shan Schierenberg
oil on canvas, 2004
38 in. x 36 in. (967 mm x 915 mm) overall
Sitterback to top
- Seamus Justin Heaney (1939-2013), Poet and Nobel Prize winner. Sitter in 24 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Tai-Shan Schierenberg (1962-), Painter. Artist of 4 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.
This portraitback to top
This psychologically penetrating interpretation of one of the leading poets of the late twentieth century offers an interesting counterpoint to the younger Heaney encountered in the whole length portrait by Peter Edwards also in the collection. Schierenberg's portrait came about as a result of a commission for Queen's University, Belfast, where Heaney is Chancellor.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 268 Read entry
Irish poet Seamus Heaney was one of the most renowned voices in poetry in the twentieth century, both critically praised and popular. Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995, the jury praised him for ‘works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past’. His first collection of poems, Death of a Naturalist (1966) was published to immediate critical acclaim. Other books of verse include Door into the Dark (1969), The Spirit Level (1996) and a much-praised modern translation of the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf (1999). In the early 1990s he was Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford and had a long relationship with Harvard University, which contributed to his significant international reputation.
Painted by Tai-Shan Schierenberg (b.1962), this portrait arose from a commission by Queen’s University Belfast, where Heaney had been Chancellor. A formal portrait had been selected for that setting while this more introspective version was acquired by the Gallery. In a letter to the Gallery after its acquisition of the portrait in 2005, Heaney - echoing the rural imagery of his own early poems - wrote that he admired the work for its ‘blocked-in, blocked-out presence, the field ‘n’ farm pigments, and the general honest-to-earth quality.’
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- Recent commissions and acquisitions (20 July 2005 - 25 September 2005)