Merrion Square, Dublin
The National Gallery in Dublin is home to more than 14,000 works of art. This includes 5,000 drawings, as many prints and about 2,500 oil paintings. It’s Ireland’s definitive collection of art.
Most impressive are the works by Jack Butler Yeats, brother to the much better-known poet. Much of the painter’s work centred on family members – especially his father, sisters and nieces. A sampling of Yeats’ paintings can be viewed on the gallery’s website.
Irish talent aside, the National Gallery houses a truly international collection. Every major school of painting that came out of Europe between the 1300s and 1900s is represented here. For visitors who would like an express tour of the most popular artwork, visit rooms 1 through 10 for what is known as the ‘Masters of the Collection’ tour. It includes work by Renaissance Painters, Dutch Masters, French Impressionists and artists from Ireland.
One of the most popular pieces in the gallery is Meeting on the Turret Stairs, a watercolour by Frederic William Burton that depicts a momentary, but forbidden, exchange between star-crossed lovers – a princess and her bodyguard. This is a delicate painting and is only open for viewing three times per week: Mondays and Wednesdays (11 am to 12 pm) and Saturdays (3 pm to 4 pm).
The National Gallery is open every day of the year except for Good Friday and 24 to 26 December. Admission is always free, as are guided tours, which meet in the Shaw Room every Saturday (2 pm) and Sunday (1 pm). Additional tours are conducted during July and August on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (2 pm).