Hugh Lane Gallery - History and Facts | History Hit

Hugh Lane Gallery

Image Credit: yykkaa / Shutterstock

About Hugh Lane Gallery

The Hugh Lane Gallery is a contemporary art gallery housed in Charlemont House, at the top of O’Connell Street in Dublin, Ireland.

History of the Hugh Lane Gallery

The Hugh Lane Gallery is name, surprisingly enough, after Sir Hugh Lane, an Anglo-Irish art dealer and collector. Lane’s first exhibition of Irish art was displayed in London in 1904, and in 1908, he bequeathed his collection to the Dublin Corporation (now the City Council). Lane was a particular fan of impressionism, which had fallen out of fashion at the time, and his gift was the first time impressionist art appeared in a national collection in England or Ireland.

The first gallery was opened on Harcourt Street, and was moved to Charlemont House in 1933, following a major refurbishment project.

The Hugh Lane bequest is an ongoing source of tension between London and Dublin. Originally he bequeathed his collection to the National Gallery, who were rather snobbish about it. As such, he had a change of heart and added a (unwitnessed) codicil to his will, leaving his collection to Dublin instead.

On his death, a bitter feud between the two developed as they fought over Lane’s bequest. Today, the collection is still technically owned by the National Gallery in London, but many of the works are on semi-permanent loan to its counterpart in Dublin on a rotating basis.

The Hugh Lane Gallery today

Today, the Hugh Lane has a formidable collection of modern and contemporary art, including Francis Bacon’s complete studio (some 80,000 objects), which was painstakingly removed from South Kensington, London to Dublin following the artist’s death. There is also an entire room dedicated to the New York based contemporary Irish artist Sean Scully, featuring 7 of his canvases.

Some of the bequest is also on display, including some world-class impressionist pieces by Renoir, Pissarro, Morisot and Manet. The gallery hosts some temporary exhibitions: check what’s on before visiting

Getting to the Hugh Lane Gallery

The gallery is located just past the Garden of Remembrance, at the top of O’Connell Street. It’s a 10 minute walk north of the Liffey, and easily accessibly from the rest of Dublin’s sites. Multiple bus routes stop outside the gallery, and the nearest Luas stop is O’Connell Street (Upper). Don’t miss the Dublin Writers Museum next door.