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Who own's Hugh Lane's pictures?

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William Crawley | 11:52 UK time, Friday, 25 July 2008

hugh_manet.jpgRenoir's Les Parapluies (c.1881-6), is now considered one of the world's most important impressionist paintings. It is currently in Dublin, enjoying pride of place on a wall in the Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane.

But in October, Renoir's umbrellas will be folded up and returned to the London's National Gallery. Les Parapluies is one of 39 French paintings left to the London gallery in the will of the irish art dealer and collector Sir Hugh Lane.

Controversially, Hugh Lane changed his mind and wrote out a codicil, or amendment, to his will shortly before his death in 1915 in which he bequeathed the 39 paintings to Dublin. Unfortunately for Dublin, he failed to have the codicil witnessed, and subsequently made a fateful journey to New York on the Lusitania. When the Lusitania was sunk by a German u-boat in 1915, Lane's body was never recovered from the seas off the coast of county Cork. Dublin's claim to the remarkable collection of paintings sank with the Lusitania. Or did it? After his death, Lane's aunt, Lady Gregory, led a campaign to defend the moral right of Dublin to own and display the paintings, notwithstanding the legal status of the bequest.

Ninety-three years after Lane's death, is it time for the paintings to be permanently returned to Dublin? Tonight, I'll be examining the case of Hugh Lane's 'missing' paintings in 'The Great Irish Art Controversy' (BBC Radio 3, 8.25 pm, produced by Marie-Claire Doris).


  • Comment number 1.

    You won me over. I say, send the paintings back to Dublin, where they belong, for good. If I was the dublin gallery head, I would screw them into the wall and tell the English if they want the paintings back, they can come with screwdrivers and take them back.


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