Skip to main content

Acquisition: Lane Bequest



Acquisition: Lane Bequest



Archive reference number



In his will of 11 Oct 1913 Sir Hugh Lane bequeathed 39 continental paintings to the National Gallery to found a collection of modern continental art in London. However in 1915 Lane added a codicil revoking the terms of the will, stating instead that his pictures were to be left to Dublin provided a suitable building to house them could be built within five years of his death.

Although the codicil was signed it was not witnessed and consequently the paintings came to the National Gallery following a High Court ruling in the Gallery's favour in 1917. Despite this ruling, persistent lobbying against the decision continued as it was felt that Dublin had a strong moral claim to the pictures. A Government committee was appointed in 1925 to consider the matter further, and reported in 1926 that it would be improper to modify Lane's will by act of Parliament.

Lobbying continued sporadically in the following years and despite suggestions that the Gallery would be prepared to lend pictures from the bequest to Dublin, no fruitful negotations took place until 1957, culminating in an Agreement of 6 Nov 1959. This stated that the collection was to be split into 2 groups and each group to be lent in turn to the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art in Dublin for successive five year periods over a twenty year period, after which time the matter would be reviewed. The agreement was renewed in 1979 and again in 1993 although the terms of the agreement have altered over time.

This sub-series contains documents regarding the bequest, dispute and subsequent agreements between the National Gallery and the Dublin authorities.

Sir John Witt's own papers re the Bequest were given to the Gallery in 1964 and may be found at NG14/22/15-19. His letter of 16 Mar 1964 offering the papers to the Gallery in case of future research interest may be found in NG14/22/15

Record type


Paintings referenced in this record

Your list will only be saved temporarily. Inactivity of more than 20 minutes could result in the loss of your list. If you would like to keep a record of your list, we suggest you print it out or email it to yourself.

Your list of records will be sent to us if you request an appointment, and a summary will be included in your appointment email notification.