The collection spans from the 14th to the 20th centuries and includes all the major Continental Schools. Irish painting is charted from its re-emergence in the 17th century to Jack B. Yeats, Ireland's most important 20th century artist. Portraits by Hamilton, Barry, Lavery and Orpen hang alongside a tradition of landscape (Roberts, O'Conor, Hone) and subject painting (Danby, Osborne, Leech).
The Italian School is the second most numerous. Early gilded altarpieces and Renaissance treasures by Fra Angelico, Mantegna and Titian precede one of the most distinguished collections of 17th century paintings outside Italy. A Caravaggio, rediscovered in Dublin, is shown with his European followers, while in the Baroque Gallery there are large canvases by Lanfranco, Maratta, Rubens and others.
In the French School, 17th century classicism is represented by Claude, Vouet and four subjects by Poussin. There are sparkling paintings from the rococo (Fragonard, Nattier, Chardin) and neoclassical works by J.L. David and Gérard. The Chester Beatty Gift of 19th century landscape and subject paintings contains academic, Orientalist and plein-air artists. The Impressionists' room has Monet, Sisley, Pissarro and Gonzales and into the early 20th century, Signac, Picasso and Nolde.
The collection of Dutch 17th century masters was built up in the last century and has been crowned by the Beit Gift of works by Vermeer, Metsu, Ruisdael and Hobbema. Spanish painting is predominately religious, with an El Greco and altarpiece from the Escorial Palace by 'El Mudo' among the early works. An early Velázquez and several pictures by Murillo and Zurbarán are 17th century highlights and there are four examples by Goya.
British painting is strongly based on portraiture, but with many Irish sitters or connections. Hogarth, Reynolds, Gainsborough and Raeburn dominate the 18th century alongside Romney, Kauffman and Wheatley.
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