National Gallery of Ireland: Wikis


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National Gallery of Ireland.

The National Gallery of Ireland (Irish: Gailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann) houses the Irish national collection of Irish and European art. It is located in the centre of Dublin with one entrance on Merrion Square, beside Leinster House, and another on Clare Street. It was founded in 1854 and opened its doors ten years later. The Gallery has an extensive, representative collection of Irish painting and is also notable for its Italian Baroque and Dutch masters painting. The current director of the gallery is Raymond Keaveney. Entry to the gallery is free.



In 1853 an exhibition, the Great Industrial Exhibition, was held on the lawns of Leinster House in Dublin. Among the most popular exhibits was a substantial display of works of art organized and underwritten by the railway magnate William Dargan. The enthusiasm of the visiting crowds demonstrated a public for art and it was decided to establish a permanent public art collection as a lasting mon History building of the National Museum of Ireland which was already planned for the facing flank of Leinster House. The building itself was designed by Francis Fowke, based on early plans by Charles Lanyon and was completed in 1864.

The Gallery was unlucky not to have been founded around an existing collection, but through diligent and skilful purchase, by the time it opened it had 125 paintings, in 1866 an annual purchase grant was established and by 1891 space was already limited. In 1897 the Dowager Countess of Milltown indicated her intention of donating the contents of Russborough House to the Gallery. This gift included about 200 hundred paintings and prompted construction from 1899 to 1903 of what is now called the Milltown Wing, designed by Thomas Newenham Deane.

At around this time Henry Vaughan left 31 watercolours by J.M.W. Turner with the requirement that they could only be exhibited in January, this to protect them from the ill-effects of sunlight. Though modern lighting technology has made this stipulation unnecessary, the Gallery continues to restrict viewing of the Vaughan bequest to January and the exhibition is treated as something of an occasion.

Another substantial bequest came with the untimely death in the sinking of the Lusitania of Hugh Lane (1875–1915), since 1914 director of the Gallery; not only did he leave a large collection of pictures, he also left part of his residual estate and the Lane Fund has continued to contribute to the purchase of art works to this day. In addition to his involvement in the Gallery, Hugh Lane has also hoped to found a gallery of modern art, something only realised after his death in the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery. George Bernard Shaw also made a substantial bequest, he left the Gallery a third of royalties of his estate in gratitude for the time he spent there as a youth.

The Gallery was again extended in 1962 with a new wing designed by Frank DuBerry of the Office of Public Works. This opened in 1968 and is now named the Beit Wing. In 1978 the Gallery received from the government the paintings given to the nation by Chester Beatty and in 1987 the Sweeney bequest brought 14 works of art including paintings by Picasso and Jack B. Yeats. The same year the Gallery was once again given some of the contents of Russborough House when Alfred Beit donated 17 masterpieces, including paintings by Velázquez, Murillo, Steen, Vermeer and Raeburn.

In the 1990s a lost Caravaggio, The Taking of Christ, known through replicas, was discovered hanging in a Jesuit house of studies in Leeson Street in Dublin by Sergio Benedetti, senior conservator of the gallery. The Jesuits have generously allowed this painting to be exhibited in the Gallery and the discovery was the cause of national excitement. In 1997 Anne Yeats donated sketchbooks by her uncle Jack Yeats and the Gallery now includes a Yeats Museum. Denis Mahon, a well known art critic, promised the Gallery part of his rich collection and eight painting from his promised bequest are on permanent display, including the Jacob Blessing the Sons of Joseph by Guercino.

The Directors of the Gallery have been: George Mulvany, 1862-9; Henry Doyle, 1869-92; Walter Armstrong, 1892-1914; Hugh Lane, 1914-15; Robert Langton Douglas, 1916-23; Lucius O'Callaghan, 1923-7; Thomas Bodkin, 1927-35; George Furlong, 1935-50; Thomas McGreevy, 1950-63; James White, 1964-80; Homan Potterton, 1980-88.


Millennium Wing

The Millennium Wing Interior
The Millennium Wing Interior

A new wing, the Millennium Wing, was opened in 2002. Unlike the previous two extensions, this new wing has street frontage and the English architects Benson & Forsyth gave it an imposing Bowers Whitbed, Portland Stone façade and grand atrium. The design originally involved demolishing an adjoining Georgian terrace house and its ballroom mews; however, the Irish planning appeals authority, An Bord Pleanála, required that they be retained. The Millennium Wing is not without its critics: it is unforgiving of poor maintenance and the compromise in the design as required by An Bord Pleanala resulted in a final design diluted from the original competition winning building concept. The circulation space also lacks clarity, but it is generally considered that these flaws are trivial details set against the drama of the building.

Highlights of the collection

The collection includes 14,000 artworks, including 2,500 oil paintings, 5,000 drawings, 5,000 prints and some sculpture, furniture and other works of art.



  • Jacques Yverni (flourished 1410–38) The Annunciation c.1435
  • Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665)
    • Acis and Galatea 1627–28
    • The Lamentation over the Dead Christ 1657–60
  • Jean Lamaire (1598–1659) Architecture Landscape with Classical Figures 1627–30
  • Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin (1699–1779) Still Life: Two Rabbits, a Grey Partridge, Game Bag and Powder Flask 1731
  • Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806) Venus and Cupid (Day) c.1755
  • Eugène Delacroix (1798–1863) Demosthenes on the Seashore 1859
  • Gustave Courbet (1819–77) Portrait of Adolphe Marlet 1851
  • Alfred Sisley (1819–99) The Banks of the Canal du Loing at Saint-Mammes 1888
  • Claude Monet (1840–1926) Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat 1874
  • Paul Signac (1863–1935) Lady on the Terrace 1898
  • Kees van Dongen (1877–1968) Stella in a Flowered Hat c.1907
  • Chaim Soutine (1893–1943) Landscape with the Flight of Stairs c.1922


Caravaggio The Taking of Christ 1602
  • Master of Verucchio (14th century) The Crucifixion, Noli me tangere c.1330–40
  • Fra Angelico (1417–55) Sts Cosmas and Damian and their Brothers surviving the Stake c.1440–42
  • Zarobi Strozzi (attribute to) (1412–68) Assumption of the Virgin with Sts Jerome and Francis 1460s
  • Filippino Lippi (1457–1504) Portrait of a Musician late 1480s
  • Titian (c.1485/90–1576) Ecce Homo c.1558/60
  • Giovan Battista Moroni (before 1524–1578) Portrait of a Gentleman and his two Children c.1570
  • Caravaggio (1571–1610) The Taking of Christ 1602
  • Guido Reni (1575–1624) The Suicide of Cleopatra c.1639–40
  • Domenichino (1581–1641) Saint Mary Magdalene c.1625
  • Guercino (1591–1666) Jacob blessing the Sons of Jacob c.1620
  • Sassoferrato (1609–85) Virgin and Child 1630s
  • Luca Giordano (1634–1705) Venus, Mars and the Forge of Vulcan 1660s
  • Carlo Maratta (1625–1713) The Rape of Europa c.1680–5
  • Francesco Solimena (1657–1747) Allegory of Winter c.1690
  • Canaletto (1697–1768) St. Mark's Square c.1756

Ugolino di Nerio"Prophet Isaiah",Jacopo Palma(Elder)"Resurrection",Giovanni Lanfranco"Last Supper"

German and Dutch

  • Salzburg School Christ on the Cross with the Virgin Mary and John c.1430
  • Master of the Youth of St Romold (active c.1490) St Romold taking leave of his Parents c.1490
  • Marinus van Reymerswaele (attributed) (c.1490/95–c.1567) The Calling of Matthew c.1530–40
  • Georg Pencz (active 1500–50) Portrait of a Gentleman 1549
  • Angelica Kauffmann (1741–1807) The Ely Family 1771
  • Emil Nolde (1867–1956) Two Women in a Garden 1915



Johannes Vermeer Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid c.1670

Nicolas de Gyslaer"Interior with Figures";Emanuel de Witte"Church Interior";Frans Hals"Fisherboy"

British and American

  • William Hogarth (1697–1764)
    • The Western Family c.1738
    • The Mackinen Children c.1747
  • Thomas Gainsborough 1727–88
    • A view in Suffolk c.1746
    • Mrs Christopher Horton (1743–1808) later Duchess of Cumberland 1766
    • The Cottage Girl 1785
  • Joshua Reynolds (1723–92)
    • Parody of Raphael's 'School of Athens' 1751
    • The Temple Family 1780–82
    • Omai 1776 (On loan from a private collection)
    • Charles Coote, The First Earl Of Bellamont 1776
  • Henry Raeburn (1756–1823) Sir John and Lady Clerk of Penicuik 1791
  • George Romney (1734–1802) Titania, Puck and the Changeling, from Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' 1793
  • John Singer Sargent (1856–1925) The Bead Stringers of Venice 1880–82
  • Stanley Royle (1888–1961) The Goose Girl c.1921
  • Francis Wheatley (1747–1801) The Dublin Volunteers on College Green, 4 November 1779 1779–80


Augustus Nicholas Burke Connemara Girl

The Yeats Collection

Drawings and Watercolours

The Meeting on Turret Stairs, 1864

See also


  • Raymond Keaveney (2002), The National Gallery of Ireland: Essential Guide. London: Scala Publishers. ISBN 1-85759-267-0
  • Homan Potterton (2003), The National Gallery of Ireland in Brian Lalor (Ed.) The Encyclopedia of Ireland. Dublin: Gill and Macmillian. ISBN 0-7171-3000-2
  • Homan Potterton, Introduction to National Gallery of Ireland: Illustrated Summary Catalogue of Paintings. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan. ISBN 0-7171-1145-8

External links

Coordinates: 53°20′27″N 6°15′09″W / 53.340914°N 6.252554°W / 53.340914; -6.252554


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