When Homan Potterton was appointed Director of the National Gallery of Ireland in 1979 at the age of thirty-three, he was the youngest ever Director since the foundation of the Gallery in 1854.
Who Do I Think I Am? is the sequel to the author’s best-selling childhood memoir Rathcormick: A Childhood Recalled. Written in a witty and amusing style, Homan Potterton regales the reader with tales of student days at Trinity, Dublin, summer jobs in London, carefree travel in Europe, and his unexpected journey to the director’s office of the National Gallery of Ireland, after his first museum job in the National Gallery, London.
With a keen interest in people, an observant eye and a spry humour, Potterton describes the many characters and leading lights of Dublin and London society that he encountered during his rich and varied career, including Anthony Blunt, Michael Levey, Denis Mahon, Derek Hill, James White, Desmond Guinness and Charles Haughey. Befriending Sir Alfred and Clementine Beit, he helped secure the famous Beit Collection for the Irish nation, and, in a dramatic episode, describes how he worked with Gardaí to recover the Beit paintings stolen from Russborough House by Martin Cahill in 1986.
In a shock resignation, Potterton left the National Gallery of Ireland after only eight years. Thirty years on, Who Do I Think I Am? is his charming and candid memoir; a beautifully rendered, acutely descriptive impression of the art worlds of Dublin and London in the years 1970–1990.
Table of Contents
1 ‘Where There’s Grass, There’s No Brains’
3 The College of the Holy and Undivided
4 Friendships and Foreign Parts
6 Times Past
7 A Proper Job
8 Dublin Diary 1, 1973
9 Dublin Diary 2, 1973
10 Reaching the Top
11 The Time of My Life
12 To the Land of Saints and Scholars
13 Official and Other Secrets
14 In Demand
15 Two Bequests
16 Our Leader
17 Underneath the Goya
18 Midnight near Moone
19 My Knitting in the Fire
Appendix: My Publications
List of Illustrations
Index of Persons
About the Author
Homan Potterton was born in 1946 and brought up in Ireland. A graduate of Trinity College, Dublin and of Edinburgh University, he was an Assistant Keeper at the National Gallery, London (1974–80) and Director of the National Gallery of Ireland (1980–88). He was Editor of Irish Arts Review, 1993–2002. His memoir of growing up on the family farm in County Meath, Rathcomick: A Childhood Recalled (2002), was a best-seller. He is the author of several art books and catalogues including The National Gallery, London (1977), Canaletto (1978) and Dutch 17th and 18th Century Paintings in the National Gallery of Ireland (1986).