Sculpture Dublin engaged with a range of institutions across Dublin to draw attention to the city’s sculpture collections. Each entry contains a summary overview, images of key works in the collection and a link to further information.
Dublin City Council
Dublin City Council has an extensive collection of public sculpture which includes a great variety of styles and use of materials ranging from monumental and figurative sculpture to abstract work. Not all the sculptures in the public realm in Dublin are in the care or ownership of Dublin City Council but sculptures in our collection include the O’Connell Monument by John Henry Foley, most of the statues and monuments along O’Connell Street as well as Henry Grattan by John Foley and Thomas Moore by Christopher Moore on College Green. More recent commissions include Molly Malone by Jeanne Rynhart, Oscar Wilde by Danny Osborne, and the Luke Kelly sculptures by John Coll (South King Street) and Vera Klute (Guild Street). More abstract works include Carnac by Bob Mulcahy, Adult and Child Seat by Jim Flavin and Wood Quay by Michael Warren. There are many other works dotted around the city and into the suburbs.
—Ruairí Ó Cuív, Public Art Officer, Dublin City Council
The Hugh Lane Gallery
Sculpture is a key component of the Hugh Lane Gallery’s collection, which dates from the nineteenth century to the present day. Many works feature renowned cultural and political figures, such as George Bernard Shaw by August Rodin, Michael Collins by Seamus Murphy and Augusta, Lady Gregory by Jacob Epstein. The significant collection of works by Andrew O’Connor includes the figure group Le Débarquement, now installed in Merrion Square Park. Contemporary expressions in sculpture are well represented by artists including Edward Delaney, F.E. McWilliam, Niki de Saint Phalle, Barry Flanagan, Dorothy Cross, Janet Mullarney and Julian Opie. The Hugh Lane Gallery also supports sculpture practice though temporary exhibitions. The gallery organised Barry Flanagan on O’Connell Street (2006) and Julian Opie: Walking on O’Connell Street (2008), and more recently an eponymous work by Eva Rothschild (2014) and Our Plundered Planet by Mark Dion (2019).
IMMA is home to the National Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art, with over 3,500 artworks by Irish and International artists dating from around 1940 to the present day. IMMA Collection began in 1991 when the Irish Museum of Modern Art opened at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham.
IMMA collects in the present and shows work from the Collection in rotation. The 2020 exhibition Ghosts of the Recent Past shows sculptural works from the Collection by artists including Siobhan Hapaska, Dorothy Cross, Nina Canell, Janet Mullarney and Bill Woodrow. The Collection also includes outstanding works by Antony Gormley, Maud Cotter, Kiki Smith, Kathy Prendergast, Daphne Wright, Shane Cullen, Cristina Iglesias, Iran de Espirito Santo and many others. One of the museum’s most popular outdoor works is Barry Flanagan’s monumental bronze hare The Drummer(1997). Another outdoor work of painted bronze is the intriguing piece by Alice Maher, The Axe (and the Waving Girl) (2003), currently on loan to TU Dublin Grangegorman, where it can be viewed.
At Trinity College Dublin, sculpture is a communicative platform, inviting encounters as diverse as sculpted personages in the Old Library by artists such as Roubiliac, Vierpyl and Farrell, to overt institutional expressions of modernism by Moore, Calder and Warren. Contemporary commemorations include the abstracted, mirrored forms of the planted and polished orbs of Eilís O’Connell’s Apples and Atoms. An historic emphasis on men is being redressed, in terms of both artist and the commemorated. Significant acquisitions in recent decades feature artworks by Gerda Fromel, Alexandra Wejchert and Beth Moyses, celebrating form, figure, materials, and performance, with the subconscious invoked in I hate You/Pink/Fury as part of Janet Mullarney’s commissioned Threesome from the Crowd, at The Long Room Hub. Carved, cast, moulded, abstracted, broken and reassembled figures and forms commemorate and celebrate aspects of what it is to be sentient, curious, creative beings, and recognise contributions to global knowledge, ways of thinking, and human expression.
Over its history, University College Dublin has built up an extensive sculpture collection comprising works by both nationally and internationally renowned artists. The best way to experience some of the collection is via the UCD Sculpture Trail, which brings you through the grounds of UCD’s Belfield Campus. It features works ranging from the neoclassical sculptor John Hogan to contemporary works by Mark Ryan and Jill Pitko.
National Museum of Ireland
The Contemporary Collection of Design and Craft (CCDC) at the National Museum of Ireland was established in 2003 to collect high quality contemporary works from Ireland’s leading designer-makers and preserve tomorrow’s antiques for future generations. The following year, the first purchases were made under the ownership and care of the Art and Industrial Division of the NMI. This is the decorative arts and history division of the institution, which dates to its foundation in the late nineteenth century.
The Decorative Arts collection of the museum has, since its establishment, been divided into different categories according to medium, e.g. ceramics, furniture/wood-turning/musical instruments, glass, jewellery/accessories and metalwork/silver. This division of different collection types is in operation in most national museums of decorative/applied arts internationally, and the NMI is no exception. Ireland has a rich history in all of these collection areas, especially during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as is evident in the exhibits at the National Museum of Ireland, Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks, Dublin.
– Dr Audrey Whitty
Sculpture is part of the very fabric of Dublin Castle. On the stone façades and gilded canopies of this former palace and centre of British power in Ireland, sculpture bears witness to our nation’s remarkable journey towards independence and beyond. Assuming the form of proud lions, solemn statesmen and serene deities, it celebrates, commemorates and inspires. Through works such as Justice and Fortitude by John van Nost (1713–1780) and carvings of St Patrick and Brian Boru by Edward Smyth (1749–1812), a heritage of national guidance and governance is made tangible across the Castle’s public spaces. In this way, sculpture serves as a vital backdrop to the Castle’s continuing role in the life of the Irish nation.
Dublin Castle and its sculpture collection are managed by the Office of Public Works (OPW) and are open to visitors seven days a week. Sculpture can also be enjoyed as part of temporary exhibitions in the State Apartment Galleries and the Coach House.
—Dr Myles Campbell
Amongst its collection of artworks, the RDS holds almost one hundred sculptures. Busts by John van Nost II sit alongside works by notable Irish artists including Edward Smyth, Thomas Kirk, Patrick MacDowell and Oliver Sheppard.
A key part of the collection is a group of plaster models by John Henry Foley. In addition to portrait busts and life-sized groups, there is a scale model for his statue of the Irish playwright Oliver Goldsmith and another for his figural representation of Winter.
The RDS Collection may be viewed by appointment. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland
The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland’s collection of sculptural portraits contains work by most of the leading sculptors of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As with painting, sculptural trends in Ireland in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries closely followed those of England. The most popular format for bust portraiture in England was classical. From 1810 to 1875 the College added to its collection at regular intervals, commissioning works as a mark of respect for its members or employees, living or recently deceased. In total, there are now 26 sculptural portraits in the collection along with three external adorned figures of Greek deities on the roof of the RCSI building at 123 St Stephen’s Green. The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland has a strong sense of its own history and tradition, and the statues and busts in its collection have enriched this.
Royal College of Physicians of Ireland
The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland’s collection contains representations of some of the key figures of the nineteenth century golden age of Irish medicine. Most notable are the four life-size marble statues of Sir Henry Marsh (1790-1860), Sir Dominic Corrigan (1802-1880), William Stokes (1804-1878) and Robert Graves (1796-1853) in the College’s main hall. Unveiled between 1866 and 1877, three are the work of John Henry Foley (1818-1874), with the statue of Graves being the work of his pupil Albert Bruce-Joy (1842-1924). The collection also contains four marble busts. These include a bust by Bruce-Joy of his father William (1800-1885), who was a Fellow of the College, and a bust of the physician and patron of the arts Henry Quin (1718-1791).
Royal Irish Academy
The Royal Irish Academy was founded in 1785 as a society for ‘promoting the study of science, polite literature and antiquities’. Today it is Ireland’s leading body of experts in the sciences and humanities. The Academy Library holds significant manuscripts, books and drawings collections, including the largest and oldest collection of Irish language manuscripts in the world. Over the years various artworks have been acquired through donations and bequests. These include busts of past members and other figures. The most extensive collection of sculptures held by the Academy are the Simon Vierpyl busts. These, along with other busts, are on display above the bookcases in the Reading Room and Meeting Room of Academy House.
Currently the building is not open to the public. For information contact email@example.com
The Pearse Museum
The Pearse Museum is dedicated to the memory of Patrick and William Pearse, both of whom were executed in the aftermath of the 1916 Rising. Prior to coming to work as an art teacher in his brother’s school, William worked in the family’s stone carving business (Pearse and Sons) for many years. He also pursued the study of art at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art (DMSA). The museum includes a gallery dedicated to William Pearse’s sculpture. William favoured human studies, and often depicted his subjects looking shy or introspective. The Museum also contains examples of work produced by James Pearse, the father of Patrick and William Pearse, who ran a very successful sculpture business. Among the highlights of the collection is the maquette of the sculptural groups carved by Pearse and Sharp in 1889 for the National Bank at 34 College Green, Dublin.
Glasnevin Cemetery was founded in 1832 by political leader Daniel O’Connell and his supporters in the garden cemetery ethos of the period. It is Ireland’s largest cemetery and contains many important pieces of sculpture and impressive examples of memorialisation. Works include those by Sir Thomas Farrell, John Hogan, Thomas H. Dennany, Albert Power, Yann Goulet, Clíodhna Cussen and William Pearse.
The sculptures form part of the magnificent collection assembled by Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness (1798-1868), and gifted to the Irish State in 1939 by Rupert Guinness, 2nd Earl of Iveagh (1874- 1967). It comprises nineteenth century Neoclassical statues and busts by predominantly Italian but also Irish and American sculptors, who enjoyed an international reputation. Some of the pieces represent the summit of their creator’s skill and became their most popular works. This popularity resulted in the same pieces being recreated by the sculptor. As such, versions of a number of sculptures at Iveagh House, particularly those by Hogan, Hosmer, Lombardi and Magni, appear in collections throughout the world.
Information provided by Mr. Kevin Egan.
Iveagh House is not currently open to the public.
Christ Church Cathedral
Over the course of one thousand years, Christ Church has accrued various sculptural memorials, ranging from medieval tomb slabs and its famous ‘Strongbow’ monument to a fine collection of Tudor cenotaphs. A general dearth of seventeenth century survivals yields in the mid-eighteenth century to the grand sculpture to the 19th Earl of Kildare by Henry Cheere, in whose footsteps John van Nost the younger followed with substantial memorials to Thomas Prior and John Bowes. The Napoleonic wars saw the democratising of sculpture and a proliferation of modest nineteenth century memorials commemorating the middle classes, but after G.E. Street’s restoration of 1871-8 there have been few sculptural additions to the collection, with more modern memorials made almost exclusively of brass.
St Patrick's Cathedral
St Patrick’s Cathedral has been at the heart of Dublin life for 800 years. The Cathedral holds an impressive collection of sculptures. These sculptures range in date from the thirteenth century up to the twenty-first century. This diverse collection includes both secular and religious iconography and a selection of various sculpting mediums. The Cathedral’s collection hosts works by famous Irish artists through the ages, such as Edward Smith (1749-1812) and Melanie le Brocquy (1919 -2018). The Cathedral is open to visitors throughout the week (updated opening times are available on St Patrick’s website).
Bank of Ireland
Established in 1783, Bank of Ireland’s Art Collection is an emblematic collection representing 19th, 20th and 21st Century Irish Art including both established and emerging artists. The collection includes work by Jack B. Yeats, Louis le Brocquy, Taffina Flood and Alice Maher. In constant development, the collection functions to enhance the interior and external Bank of Ireland sites across the country.