New partnership agreed between the National Gallery and Hugh Lane Gallery

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New partnership agreed between the National Gallery and Hugh Lane Gallery
Claude Monet, Lavacourt under Snow, about 1878-81. Oil on canvas, 59.7 x 80.6 cm. Sir Hugh Lane Bequest, 1917 © The National Gallery, London

LONDON.- A new partnership has been agreed between the National Gallery, London and the Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin regarding the 39 paintings in the Sir Hugh Lane Bequest, which allows the public in both the UK and Ireland to continue enjoying these works on a regular basis.

In moving on from previous agreements made during the past 50 years, the two galleries are now committed to working in partnership regarding the care and display of these paintings in a spirit of collegiality.

When Hugh Lane (born County Cork, 1875) perished on the Lusitania on 7 May 1915, it emerged that he had bequeathed his collection of 39 modern paintings – including works by Renoir, Manet, Mancini, Monet, Morisot, Pissarro, Vuillard and Degas - to the National Gallery, London.

Soon after his death, a codicil to the will was found in Lane’s desk at the National Gallery of Ireland (where he was Director) leaving the pictures to Ireland instead. They were to form the core of the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art which Sir Hugh had established in Dublin in 1908 (known today as the Hugh Lane Gallery).

The codicil was signed but not witnessed and therefore legally invalid, consequently the National Gallery became the owner of the works.

In the late 1950s, Sir Denis Mahon (1910–2011) - a National Gallery Trustee of Irish descent - undertook to find a compromise where the two institutions would share access to the paintings. The first agreement was reached in 1959 and implemented in the early 1960’s whereby the paintings were divided in two groups and alternated between the two institutions until 1979. 27 paintings from the Lane Bequest have been on long-term loan to Dublin for more than fifty years.

Beginning in 1993, eight great French masterpieces rotated between London and Dublin, four at a time on a six-year cycle. The final four paintings remained in London.

As part of the new 10-year partnership, the sharing and rotating of paintings will continue – however there will now be 10 paintings rotating in two groups of five, for five years in each location. Two works will remain in London. In the spirit of partnership, the works will now all be labelled ‘Sir Hugh Lane Bequest, 1917, The National Gallery, London. In partnership with the Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin.’

There will also be a wide range of new partnership initiatives involving the care, display, preservation and promotion of the paintings.

Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, said, “A distinguished collector and generous philanthropist, Hugh Lane wanted people in Dublin and London to enjoy and appreciate 'modern continental painting'. This new agreement strengthens the partnership between the National Gallery and the Hugh Lane Gallery enabling people in both countries to enjoy the paintings by Manet, Monet, Renoir, Vuillard and Morisot that he donated.”

Dr Barbara Dawson, Director of the Hugh Lane Gallery, said, “Sir Hugh Lane’s establishment of a gallery of modern art for Ireland in 1908 was a remarkable step for Irish cultural independence. This new partnership agreement between the Hugh Lane Gallery and the National Gallery London underpins the collegial relationship that has developed between the two institutions. Importantly, it acknowledges the history and the role of the Hugh Lane Gallery in the provenance of these paintings and means that people in both countries can continue to enjoy Sir Hugh ‘s celebrated bequest.”

Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport said: "This partnership is a brilliant example of cooperation in the cultural sector and marks a new phase in the ongoing relationship between the National Gallery and the Hugh Lane Gallery. I'm delighted to see the National Gallery's work with overseas partners go from strength to strength. The agreement means the future of this important group of paintings has been secured for audiences in Ireland and the UK to enjoy."

Lord Mayor of Dublin, Hazel Chu, said: “This Agreement represents a unique cultural collaboration between our two countries and our two cities, Dublin and London. I am very proud and delighted to have these renowned paintings in the city’s Hugh Lane Gallery, founded by Sir Hugh Lane in 1908. It is the earliest gallery of modern art in Europe and is one of Dublin’s most significant cultural institutions. The Sir Hugh Lane Bequest paintings are on display to be enjoyed by Dubliners and all visitors to the city.”

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