Here comes the history:
Sir Hugh Lane was Irish, brought up in England, and the nephew of Lady Augusta Gregory (who set up the Abbey). Around 1901, he got the idea for a gallery of modern painting and set about assembling art for it and campaigning for a location, etc. To further that aim, he organised the first ever contemporary exhibition of Irish paintings abroad in London, in 1904. He was also a great collector of Impressionist art, and his collection formed the nucleus of the Hugh Lane gallery. He did not live to see his ambition achieved in any permanent form: he was killed on the Lusitania when it was torpedoed off Cork in 1915. Much has been written of the legal wranglings that followed his death between Dublin and London as they fought for control of the continental collection. Eventually, after court cases, they came to a sharing agreement where the paintings go back and forth between here and the National Gallery in London. Amongst these is one of my very favourite paintings, Les Parapluies by Renoir. I didn't see it on Tuesday - and I didn't have time to ask whether it had already returned to London - I thought it was here for a few more years.
|Les Parapluies by Auguste Renoir|
Next time, I'll hopefully manage to visit the first floor! They've got a good bookshop too.
On a side note, and I probably shouldn't highlight this too much but I often hear complaints that Dublin does not have enough (or any) public toilets. Since galleries and museums are free, it's worth keeping in mind their always shiny clean facilities are conveniently located all over town, and sure stop in for some culture while you're at it! And if one can have such a thing, my favourites are the National Library's - with beautiful old art nouveau decoration with comfy couches (for no apparent reason).