What would’ve been the finest building in Dublin (!)

painting of design for Hugh Lane Gallery over the river Liffey, Dublin
An artist’s impression of the proposed Municipal Art Gallery building/ bridge designed by architect Edwin Landseer Lutyens for Hugh Lane

Well, except for that moustache (which looked suspiciously fake to me), Tom Vaughan-Lawlor was great in the lead role of Citizen Lane.

I really enjoyed this drama-documentary about Hugh Lane and his dream of bringing modern art to Ireland in the early years of the twentieth century. Irish people, especially Dubliners, will know the name of Hugh Lane but I suppose that relatively few will know the story behind the man, a citizen who was one of Ireland’s greatest benefactors of the arts.

During his short life he amassed a wonderful collection of Impressionist paintings and his aim was to donate it to the city of Dublin so that the citizens of the country could see and appreciate it (for free).

He housed the collection temporarily in Harcourt Street but he was driven by the idea of creating a purpose-built gallery, a building that would be a work of art in its own right. He commissioned Edwin Landseer Lutyens to design it and the artist’s impression above shows what might have been – a unique gallery/ bridge over the river Liffey.

Watch the trailer below –

Alas, it was not to be. Not unlike today, a proverbial bunch of Philistines had control of the purse strings and a wonderful opportunity was lost.

In the film, a particularly telling conversation was one held between media mogul William Martin Murphy and Hugh Lane. Murphy (of course) was against the idea of spending money on the arts but Lane argued that:

Contemplation of beauty is no idle practice;  Beauty speaks to the soul of man, to our higher selves, and any city that celebrates such practice can truly be considered great…

Citizen Lane, a film by Thaddeus O’Sullivan, was funded by RTÉ and The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, with the participation of Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane.






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