Hugh Lane

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Sir Hugh Percy Lane
Mancini - Hugh Lane.jpg
Sir Hugh Lane by Antonio Mancini - Oil on canvas (1913)
Born (1875-11-09)9 November 1875
County Cork, Ireland,[1] U.K.
Died 7 May 1915(1915-05-07) (aged 39)
RMS Lusitania, Atlantic Ocean
Occupation Art dealer

Sir Hugh Percy Lane (9 November 1875 – 7 May 1915) was an Irish art dealer, collector and gallery director. He is best known for establishing Dublin's Municipal Gallery of Modern Art (the first known public gallery of modern art in the world) and for his contribution to the visual arts in Ireland, including the Lane Bequest. Hugh Lane died on board the RMS Lusitania.


Hugh Lane (Aoḋ Ó Léan)

Hugh Percy Lane was born in County Cork, Ireland on 9 November 1875. He was brought up in Cornwall, England, and began his career as an apprentice painting restorer and later became a successful art dealer in London.

Through regular visits to Coole (near Gort), County Galway, the home of his aunt, Lady Gregory, Lane remained in contact with Ireland. He soon counted among his family, friends and social circle those who collectively formed the core of the Irish cultural renaissance in the early decades of the 20th century.

Art collector[edit]

Sir Hugh Lane, John Singer Sargent, 1906

Extolling the cause of Irish art abroad, Lane also became one of the foremost collectors and dealers of Impressionist paintings in Europe, and amongst those works purchased by him for the new gallery were La Musique aux Tuileries by Manet, Sur la Plage by Degas, Les Parapluies by Renoir and La Cheminée by Vuillard.

The Municipal Gallery of Modern Art opened in January 1908 in temporary premises in Harcourt Street, Dublin. Lane hoped that Dublin Corporation would run it, but the corporation was unsure if it would be financially viable. Lane did not live to see his gallery permanently located as he died in 1915 during the sinking of the RMS Lusitania, off the west coast of Cork, the county of his birth. The gallery, extended in 2005, is now in Parnell Square in central Dublin.

For his "services to art" in Ireland, Lane was knighted in June 1909 at the comparatively young age of 33.[2]

Controversy over the Lane Bequest[edit]

Following his death, his will bequeathed his collection to London, but an unwitnessed later codicil bequeathed it to Dublin. Having possession, London's National Gallery did not recognise the codicil. At the request of Lane's aunt, Lady Gregory, WT Cosgrave, leader of the Irish Government unsuccessfully approached Ramsay MacDonald on the matter in 1929.[3] When John A. Costello became Taoiseach in 1948, he initiated further negotiations with the UK government, eventually leading to a compromise in 1959, under Taoiseach Sean Lemass, whereby half of the Lane Bequest would be lent and shown in Dublin every five years.[4] In 1993 the agreement was varied so that 31 of the 39 paintings would stay in Ireland. The remaining 8 were divided into 2 groups, so that 4 would be lent for 6 years at a time to Dublin. These 8 include works by Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Morisot, Vuillard and Degas. In 2008 The National Gallery in London arranged for the entire collection to be on display in Dublin together for the first time. There was a switch in May 2013 for a six-year period.[5]


  1. ^ "Hugh Percy Lane, "Ireland Births and Baptisms, 1620-1881" - Record Details —". Retrieved 2013-05-28. 
  2. ^ "No. 28275". The London Gazette. 30 July 1909. p. 5805. 
  3. ^ Jordan, Anthony (2006). W. T. Cosgrave 1880 - 1965: Founder of Modern Ireland. Westport Books. pp. 123–4. ISBN 0952444771. 
  4. ^ Jordan, Anthony (2007). John A Costello - Compromise Taoiseach. Westport Books. pp. 129–138. ISBN 9780952444787. 
  5. ^ Jason Kennedy (2013-05-23). "Four priceless paintings return to Dublin - Irish News, World News & More | The Irish Times - Thu, May 23, 2013". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2013-05-28. 


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