A Cultured Christmas: what to gift the arts lover in your life, by Sara Keating

These present ideas are imaginative, fun and easy on the budget – and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’re funding the arts as well

A postcard of The Artist’s Studio by Sir John Lavery and a ticket to current exhibition Lavery. On Location. at the National Gallery of Ireland might make a lovely present for the visual art lover in your life. Picture: NGI

Last Monday at Whyte’s, the specialist art and collectibles auction house, a large oil painting by Sir John Lavery was being put under the hammer, as part of a special, pre-Christmas seasonal sale. The painting, Switzerland [Hazel and Alice], 1913, is an idyllic scene: Lavery’s wife Hazel huddles intimately in the foreground with an unknown woman, while his stepdaughter Alice pulls a toboggan through the snow behind them, the white-capped mountains looming in the background. The painting was sold, above estimate, for €230,000: a fine Christmas present to find wrapped under the tree on December 25th. However, you don’t need a lot of money to give the gift of culture to a loved one this Christmas, even the gift of John Lavery. There is a sumptuous exhibition of Lavery’s work at the National Gallery of Ireland, which also includes paintings from his Switzerland tour in 1913: admission is €11.25, with a reduced entry fee on Thursday evenings, and free admission on Wednesday mornings. Book in advance and parcel with a high-quality printed postcard of one of Lavery’s famous works – The Artist’s Studio, perhaps – from the gift shop, and you have a gift that any art lover will relish.