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Sir Hugh Lane

(1875—1915) art dealer and collector


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(b Ballybrack House, Douglas [now a suburb of Cork], 9 Nov. 1875; d at sea, off the Old Head of Kinsale, Co. Cork, 7 May 1915).

Irish dealer, patron, collector, and administrator. He made his fortune as a picture dealer in London and had no particular interest in Ireland until about 1900, when through the influence of Sarah Purser and the playwright Lady Gregory (his aunt) he became caught up in the rising tide of nationalism in the arts. He commissioned John Butler Yeats to paint a series of eminent contemporary Irishmen (it was completed by Orpen, a distant cousin and close friend of Lane's) and he helped to found Dublin's Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, opened in temporary premises in 1908. In addition to giving and lending numerous works to the gallery, he offered to bequeath his finest late 19th- and early 20th-century French paintings to Dublin, on condition that a suitable gallery were built to house them. This caused arguments with Dublin's city authorities, however, and he moved the 39 pictures (among them Renoir's celebrated Umbrellas) to the National Gallery in London. Lane was killed when the Lusitania (on which he was returning from business in the USA) was torpedoed by a German submarine. A codicil to his will expressed his intention of returning the French pictures to Dublin, but it was unwitnessed, creating a long-term legal dispute about their ownership. In 1959 an agreement was eventually reached whereby the paintings were divided into groups to be shown alternately in Dublin and London. This agreement has subsequently been modified, with most of the paintings remaining in Dublin. The Municipal Gallery of Modern Art was given a permanent home in 1933, and is now known as Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane. In 2008 the paintings in London's care were loaned to Dublin so that all the pictures in the Lane Bequest could be brought together in an exhibition to celebrate the gallery's centenary.

Subjects: Art — Literature.


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