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Bernd Biege

The Hugh Lane and the Lusitania

By January 11, 2013

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I mentioned it briefly in the calendar of art events 2013 in Ireland - this year artworks will be swapped again between the National Gallery in London and Dublin's Municipal Gallery. A curious event that happens every six years. But just why? Well, blame the Germans. Or rather Kapitšnleutnant Walther Schwieger, a u-boat ace notorious for his sinking of ocean liners. Amongst which the Lusitania.

It was the sinking of the RMS Lusitania that led to the moving artworks of Dublin and London. Because the original owner, Hugh Lane, had left his collection to London, but later decided that Dublin was a better place for them. Unfortunately, the will to this effect had not yet been properly witnessed when a torpedo hit the Lusitania and Hugh Lane went down with her. So, by law the collection belongs to London. But it was Hugh Lane's expressed intention, that Dublin should benefit. In a Solomonic compromise they collection was split in two, to be rotated.

By the way ... Renoir's Les Parapluies is returning to Dublin. A painting made for Dublin, the weather and all. Then again, the scene could be London as well ...

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