The National Gallery of Ireland has a long-standing association with Russborough House in Co. Wicklow.
Russborough was built in 1741 by Joseph Leeson, the son of a wealthy brewer in Dublin. In 1763 Joseph Leeson was awarded the title ‘Earl of Milltown’. The house stayed in the Milltown family for many years.
The Countess of Milltown presented a donation of paintings, sculpture, silver and objets d’art to the National Gallery of Ireland in 1902 (the Milltown Gift).
In 1914, Russborough House passed from the 6th Earl of Milltown (Edward Leeson) to a nephew, Sir Edmund Turton. Sir Turton’s widow subsequently sold Russborough house to Colonel Denis and Mrs Daly in 1931.
Sir Alfred and Lady Beit bought Russborough in 1952, chiefly to hold their art collection. In 1987, the Beits donated an extraordinary collection of pictures to the Gallery, including outstanding examples of Spanish, Dutch and British art, with compositions by Velázquez, Murillo, Vermeer, Metsu, Gainsborough and Raeburn.
This exhibition will coincide with the publication of a book on Russborough, by William Laffan and Kevin Mulligan, which will have large sections discussing the Milltown and Beit artworks.