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The Story of the National Gallery of Ireland

The Story of the National Gallery of Ireland


On 10 August 1854 an Act of Parliament was passed establishing the National Gallery of Ireland. Ten years later it opened with great fanfare, the displays mainly of plaster casts, baroque altarpieces, copies of Old Masters and a room of watercolours. It is now a collection of world renown, with masterpieces by Caravaggio, Uccello, Vermeer, Poussin, Rubens, Velázquez, Reynolds, Osborne, Hamilton and others.


Here the gallery’s story is told for the first time. Poverty, misfortune, good luck, moments of great generosity, drama, cowardice, and the idiosyncratic foresight and taste of twelve Directors have contributed to this story. A rich archive of minute books and letters reveal the struggle even to construct the original building and make an initial collection from nothing. The immeasurable role of generous donors like Milltown, Lane, Chester Beatty, Shaw, Beit, Mahon and the Society of Jesus is also considered.

  • Peter Somerville-Large

    March 2006

    496 pages, cloth/hardback

    298 x 245 mm, 225 colour illustrations
    ISBN: 978 1 904288 08 4

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