Harry Clarke, ‘The Eve of St Agnes’ (6th of 8 stained glass panels) (1924). Collection & © Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin. (Reg. No. 1442.06)
Art lovers, if you are visiting Dublin, don’t miss the world’s first Gallery of Modern Art, The Hugh Lane Gallery, situated on Parnell Square in the heart of Dublin. The gallery’s original collection was presented to the city by Hugh Lane in 1908 to create the world’s first public modern art gallery. It is now housed in Charlemont House, a beautiful 18 th century mansion on Parnell Square at the top of O’Connell Street in central Dublin. Hugh Lane was born in County Cork and became a successful art dealer in London. Through regular visits to his aunt, Augusta, Lady Gregory, in County Galway he remained in close contact with Ireland. He was friends with key figures in the Irish cultural renaissance in the early the 20th century, such as W. B. Yeats. Inspired by their efforts in the fields of literature and theatre, he donated an extraordinary collection of modern art to Dublin.
The collection is especially rich in Irish art from the early 20 th century on. Portraits by John Lavery, William Orpen, John Butler Yeats and Sarah Purser form a “who’s who” of Irish political and cultural life of the period. Irish art practice is also well represented by, amongst others, Walter Osborne, Jack B Yeats, Paul Henry, Grace Henry, Mary Swanzy and Patrick Tuohy and international practice by artists such as Niki de Saint Phalle, Philip Guston, Ellsworth Kelly and Richard Tuttle. Lane was one of the first collectors of French Impressionist paintings in Britain and Ireland and the Gallery’s collection includes the renowned Sir Hugh Lane Bequest of 39 paintings shared with the National Gallery, London. These include Renoir’s magnificent Les Parapluies , and Manet’s powerful portrait of Eva Gonzalès. Also on view are works by Edgar Degas and the atmospheric Waterloo Bridge by Claude Monet. The stained glass room contains the remarkable work of Harry Clarke. The Eve of St. Agnes window was inspired by John Keat’s poem, and is recognised as a masterpiece in 20th century stained glass art. Also on view is the recently acquired Mr Gilhooley by Clarke, a panel which was originally destined to be part of Clarke’s Geneva Window .
A unique attraction at the gallery is Francis Bacon’s Studio. Dublin-born Francis Bacon is one of the most celebrated artists of the 20th century and his studio complex at Hugh Lane Gallery features the artist’s original studio that was relocated from London to Dublin and opened to the public in 2001. The artist worked in the studio at 7 Reece Mews from 1961 to his death in 1992 and it was where he created many of his most iconic paintings. Another notable recent acquisition is a collection of works by Dublin-born Sean Scully, one of the most internationally significant painters of his generation. Hugh Lane Gallery organises dynamic and ambitious temporary exhibitions and a range of education programmes for people of all ages and interests. Free concerts are held on Sundays at midday. See www.hughlane.ie for details of all upcoming programmes and events. A bookshop stocks gallery publications and gifts; Hatch and Sons café serves tea, coffee and gourmet food featuring the best Irish produce.
Admission to Hugh Lane Gallery is free. It is open Tuesday to Thursday: 9.45am–6pm, Friday: 9.45am–5pm, Saturday: 10am–5pm and Sunday: 11am–5pm (closed Mondays).
Hugh Lane Gallery
Charlemont House, Parnell Square North, Dublin 1, D01 F2X9, Ireland
+ 353 1 222 5550