Central Bank launches first commemorative coin to feature an Irish woman

Wexford-born designer Eileen Gray appears on the piece

Central Bank launches first commemorative coin to feature an Irish woman

Image: Central Bank of Ireland

A new coin has been unveiled by the Central Bank in honour of Irish designer Eileen Gray.

It is also the first collector coin to commemorate the achievements of an Irish woman.

It is part of a five-year Europa Star silver coin programme commemorating the 'Ages of Europe'.

The 2016 theme is 'Modern 20th Century Europe' - and is inspired by the architectural designs as featured on the €500 banknote.

Gray was born in Enniscorthy in 1878, but lived the majority of her life in France.

Earlier this year, a plaque was unveiled in Paris to Gray at the apartment where she lived from 1907 to 1976 - the year of her death.

Eileen Gray is seen in this undated photo | Image: National Museum of Ireland

She became a pre-eminent figure within the Modernist movement and was initially acclaimed for her work with lacquer.

Her notable later works include the modernist villa E-1027, the accompanying 'E-1027 table' and her armchair 'Fauteuil aux dragons', which sold at auction in 2009 for €22m.

Her designs were often praised for their functionality in addition to their aesthetic form.

Gray lived to see a resurgence of interest in her work in the 1970s, and her famous Brick Screen has become an icon of modernist design.

The coin was designed by Sandra Deiana, who says she was "immediately struck by the idea of designing a coin to pay tribute to a female artist who worked in a period when it was still difficult to succeed in the world of work, especially in the arts".

Image: Central Bank of Ireland

"I wanted to emphasise Gray's great contribution to the International Style of 20th century Europe.

"Among her many works, I find 'Screen' to be emblematic of her entire artistic career and therefore ideally represents the best of her artistic potential".

The proof coin, measuring a diameter of and weighing 28.28g, comes in a presentation box with a certificate of authenticity.

The coin is struck in .925 Sterling Silver and is strictly limited to 6,000 pieces, priced at €60.