Collections that almost weren't...

Bridgeman is delighted to represent two stellar, but lesser-known, European art collections, The Hugh Lane in Dublin and The Lobkowicz Collections in Prague. Both of these collections overcame incredible challenges in order to stay in existence after tragic events in the early 20th century. The two collections tell fascinating stories of patronage and dedication to collecting and preserving the arts.

Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane

Bridgeman is delighted to now represent The Hugh Lane in Dublin. Established in 1908 by Sir Hugh Lane, it is the first known public gallery of modern art in the world.

 

 

Mother and Child, 1909 (oil on canvas) by Sir John Lavery
Mother and Child, 1909 (oil on canvas) by Sir John Lavery

 

Despite being raised in England, Lane retained his ties to Ireland through frequent visits to his aunt, Lady Gregory, co-founder of the Irish Literary Theatre whose circle formed the core of the early 20th century Irish cultural renaissance. Lane was passionate about Irish literature and its 'sister art' and of having a public space in which to experience them. Through personal financing and the persuading of leading artists to donate works, he formed the core of his collection, and quickly became a prolific collector of Impressionist paintings.

In 1913, frustrations with delays in locating a permanent home for his collection prompted Lane to loan 39 works to the National Gallery in London. Rumor has it that he made a will leaving those paintings to London that same year. Tragically, Lane never saw his Gallery permanently located. He was one of 1,198 people who died when a German U-boat torpedoed the RMS Lusitania off the coast of Ireland in 1915. Before leaving on his ill-fated journey, he ammended his will stating that he had changed his mind and bequeathed the works to Dublin. The document was signed but not witnessed, however, resulting in decades of arguments between Dublin and London. In 1959, agreements were finally reached and the paintings are now shared between the two cities.

 

Notable works include paintings by Monet, Vuillard (below, left), Degas and Manet from the Hugh Lane Bequest 1917 and Irish artists such as Jack B. Yeats, Sean Keating, Sir John Lavery and Mary Swanzy. Particular highlights are the entire contents of Francis Bacon's studio, which the gallery acquired in 1998 and Harry Clarke's The Eve of St. Agnes, a stained glass work from the 1920s depicting Keats' poem of the same name (below right).

Read more about The Hugh Lane.

 

 

La Cheminee (The Mantlepiece), 1905 (oil on cardboard) by Edouard Vuillard
La Cheminee (The Mantlepiece), 1905 (oil on cardboard) by Edouard Vuillard

 

 

(Detail) The Eve of St Agnes, 1924 (stained glass) by Harry Clarke
(Detail) The Eve of St Agnes, 1924 (stained glass) by Harry Clarke

 

 

Lobkowicz Collections

The Lobkowicz family is among the oldest and most distinguished Bohemian noble families and has played a prominent role in European history for over six hundred years. The entirety of the collection spans four locations: Lobkowicz Palace, Nelahozeves Castle, Roudnice Castle and Strekov Castle.

 

Detail of The River Thames with St. Paul's Cathedral on Lord Mayor's Day, c. 1747-8 (oil on canvas) by Canaletto
Detail of The River Thames with St. Paul's Cathedral on Lord Mayor's Day, c. 1747-8 (oil on canvas) by Canaletto

 

The Lobkowicz family's influence was far and wide, from the papacy and the Hapsburg Court to patronage of the composer and pianist, Ludwig van Beethoven. Despite it's privilege, events of the 20th century would forever change the course of the family and their beloved collection of paintings, manuscripts, musical instruments and decorative arts.

During the early years of the newly formed Czechoslovak state after WWI, Maximilian Lobkowicz played a central diplomatic role as Ambassador to Great Britian. Unfortunately, his collaboration led directly to the confiscation of the family's property by the Nazis in 1939. 

The triumph of the end of WWII and the return of the family's possessions in 1945 was short-lived. When, in 1948 in a coup d'etat, the Communists gained control of the country, Maximilian and his family once again lost everything and were forced into exile for the next 41 years.

The events of the Velvet Revolution in 1989 would ultimately topple communism and prompt President Vaclav Havel to sign legislative acts to return property confiscated by the regime. Unfortunately, Maximilian would not live to see this and his son Martin and grandson William were tasked with the enormous responsibility of reclaiming the family's extensive collections and the properties built to house them. In the 1990s, the family formally established Lobkowicz Collections with the important mission of opening these important cultural resources to the public. Highlights of the collection include: two views of the Thames by Canaletto, works by Bruegel including the Haymaking panel and a portrait of Josef Franz Maximilian, the great patron of Beethoven.

Read more about the Lobkowicz Collections.

 

Portrait of Anne of Austria, Queen of Spain (1549-80) daughter of Emperor Maximillian II and 4th wife of Phillip II by Alonso Sanchez Coello
Portrait of Anne of Austria, Queen of Spain (1549-80) daughter of Emperor Maximillian II and 4th wife of Phillip II by Alonso Sanchez Coello

 


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