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Crawford Art Gallery Features on BBC2 Special

As nearly a million viewers across the UK and Ireland tuned in on Monday night to watch art historian Mary Beard’s new programme The Shock of the Nude, Cork’s Crawford Art Gallery lit up television screens and Twitter feeds.

Crawford Art Gallery joined esteemed international institutions, like Uffizi Gallery in Florence and Musée d’Orsay in Paris. This was as the backdrop for Beard’s study of public perceptions around nudity in the arts across centuries.

Beard was attracted to Crawford Art Gallery, the only national cultural institution outside Dublin, where a titillating live conservation project The Fig Reveal took place last summer. Sculpture conservator Eoghan Daltun removed the fig-leaves from six male figures from Crawford Art Gallery’s historic collection of beloved Canova Casts.

With banter and doses of humour, Beard gleefully watched and assisted as Daltun chiselled at the removal of Apollo Belvedere’s fig leaf. Beard likened the procedure to dentistry with Daltun responding that he “wouldn’t want to go to your dentist, Mary.”

After material research, it is thought these fig leaves were added following the arrival of the Canova Casts in 1818. From pope to prince to the port of Cork, the casts have a rich and storied history. Born out of the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, they were a gift to the Prince Regent (later King George IV) who, in turn, gifted them to the people of Cork.

Episode 1 of The Shock of the Nude, featuring Crawford Art Gallery and The Fig Reveal, is available now on BBC iPlayer. Episode 2 will air on Monday February 10 at 9pm on BBC2.

For more information about Crawford Art Gallery’s latest exhibitions, visit the gallery’s website at www.crawfordartgallery.ie.

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