Art & Artists

A Breezy Day

Sir William Orpen

Howth (1909)

History of the Hugh Lane Gallery Collection

Hugh Lane Gallery (originally called Municipal Gallery of Modern Art) was founded in 1908 by Sir Hugh Lane and his supporters, who donated a wonderful collection of late nineteenth and early twentieth century European art to Dublin.


It is the oldest extant 20th century public modern art gallery. The early collection focuses on Irish, French, English, and Italian art. Together with the works Hugh Lane donated, HLG also shares with the National Gallery of London Sir Hugh’s renowned Impressionist paintings.

Sir Hugh Lane’s extraordinary vision to establish a gallery of modern art for Ireland was inspired by the Irish Literary Revival, led by the noble laureate W.B. Yeats, and Sir Hugh’s aunt, Lady Augusta Gregory.

Hugh Lane Gallery first opened on 20 January 1908 in a temporary location, Clonmell House, Harcourt Street, Dublin. In 1933 the gallery moved to Parnell Square North House, to Charlemont House designed in 1765 by William Chambers for James Caulfeild, the first Earl of Charlemont. The house was refurbished to accommodate the collection and a new enfilade of galleries was built in the gardens, designed by the City Architect Horace T. O’Rourke.

Following Sir Hugh’s great support for visual art, the gallery has amassed a wonderful representative collection of 20th and 21st century art over the years and continues to be an advocate for Irish art practice. The Gallery was actively involved in a series of international exhibitions ROSC held periodically in Dublin from the 1960’s to the 80’s. It hosted the 1977 ROSC exhibition and has embedded in the collection an excellent collection of works by the artists who exhibited. The gallery continues to collect Irish and international art.

Throughout its history, the gallery has been fortunate in receiving numerous generous donations including The Lady Lavery Memorial Bequest through Sir John Lavery, 1935, which features portraits of many of the personalities who shaped the birth of Modern Ireland; The Haverty Trust, The Friends of the National Collections of Ireland and the Contemporary Irish Art Society.

More recently, in 1998, Francis Bacon’ Studio and archive were donated by the artist’s heir John Edwards and Brian Clarke, the executor of the Estate of Francis Bacon. The studio is now on permanent display attracting visitors from around the world and the archive provides a rich resource for scholarly research.

In 2006, the internationally renowned Dublin-born artist Sean Scully generously donated eight paintings to Hugh Lane Gallery and in 2018 another work, Landline Grey. The gallery now has one of the finest public collections of Scully’s work.

The gallery’s collection has grown considerably over the last century with significant acquisitions of work by contemporary artists, reflecting the ethos of Sir Hugh Lane “…for its one’s contemporaries that teach one the most.”

  • Visiting Researchers

    The Hugh Lane Gallery’s collections can be viewed online. If you have additional questions or are researching a specific artist or work in the collection for a more in-depth project such as a publication or exhibition, you may be able to schedule an appointment to view our artist’s files. Francis Bacon and Harry Clarke archives are not yet online, but researchers are welcome to contact the Collections department with enquiries or to make an appointment to view the archive databases. Researchers wishing to consult the Francis Bacon archive should provide a letter of introduction or recommendation.

    For collection research enquiries please email Logan Sisley at [email protected].

    For image enquiries and reproduction requests, see below under Image Rights and Reproductions or contact Philip Roe at [email protected].

  • Image rights and reproductions

    Hugh Lane Gallery is committed to providing access to our Collection to as many people as possible.

    If you wish to reproduce any images from our Collection, in print or online, please contact our Registrar.

    You can search our extensive and diverse collection of artworks via our Online Catalogue, and you are free to download low-resolution images for your own personal use and enjoyment.

    We also have a selection of higher-resolution images available, suitable for publication.

    Charges may apply, depending on proposed usage and print-run, or if new high-res photography is required and can be arranged.


    Reproduction of any of our images must include the credit-line:

    Collection & image © Hugh Lane Gallery

    For artworks still in copyright, you must also credit the artist, estate or their representative.

    When we respond to image requests, we will provide you with the appropriate contact or credit-line to use. Please see more info in our Copyright Guidelines, about third-party copyright clearance.

  • Borrowing from our Collection

    In our rich and diverse Collection, we have over 2,000 artworks ranging from the nineteenth century to modern and contemporary.

    Loan requests are considered in order to support our colleagues in galleries and museums around the world, as well as to promote a greater appreciation and enjoyment of art.

    All borrowers must demonstrate their ability to provide an appropriate display venue and keep appropriate conditions in place.

    How to request to borrow an item

    Loan requests should be addressed to the Director of the Hugh Lane Gallery, and include as much of the following information as possible:

    • Information about your proposed exhibition, other items being displayed, and why the inclusion of Hugh Lane Gallery artwork/s are important for your show.
    • Registration number, artist name and title of artwork/s.
    • Information on the venue/s (see template Facilities Reports available at www.ukregistrarsgroup.org)

    Items should be requested at least six months in advance.

    Where several objects are requested, or for an international exhibition, requests should be made nine months in advance.

    We also welcome informal discussions with HLG Collections staff before a formal request is made.

    Requests will be acknowledged by the Registrar within four weeks. Once all information is received we will endeavour to make a decision to either lend or refuse within 12 weeks.


    We do not have a standard borrowing fee. We try to keep costs to a minimum, however the borrower is responsible for all costs relating to the loan, including:

    • insurance
    • framing / glazing
    • display requirements, such as plinths
    • transport, including courier expenses if required
    • other costs such as crating, condition checking/reporting and material costs for conservation work will be identified at the time of the formal agreement of loan.
    • if a borrower cancels a loan at a late stage we reserve the right to pass on any costs already incurred.


    For informal discussion prior to submitting a formal request, please contact:

    Head of Collections, Logan Sisley

    Or, Registrar, Philip Roe

    Formal loan requests should be addressed in writing to:

    Dr Barbara Dawson
    Hugh Lane Gallery
    Charlemont House
    Parnell Square North
    Dublin D01 F2X9

Explore our extraordinary collection of modern and contemporary art through our online collection.

Francis Bacon Studio Perry Ogden 1998