1912 – Liffey Bridge Gallery Proposal, Dublin

Architect: Sir Edwin Lutyens

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Intended to house the collection of Sir Hugh Lane, and to replace the Wellington Bridge (Ha’penny Bridge) Lutyens’ design was rejected by the city corporation. Lane was keen to use Lutyens while the city and the RIAI were pushing for an architectural competition with Lutyens as assessor. Another design by Lutyens proposed siting the gallery in St. Stephen’s Green – this was also rejected by the city. With Lane’s death on the Lusitania, the schemes died. Eventually Charlemont House on Parnell Square was converted into the Municipal Gallery.

“The new art gallery is to be in the form of a bridge spanning the famous Liffey, to take the place of a hideous iron bridge covered with advertisements that is at present one of the eyesores of Dublin. Those who know the charm of the Ponte Vecchio at Florence might think that the project would be accepted with alacrity.

But those that know Dublin, as I do, will understand that there are many clashing forces in that historic city, and that the Dubliner, like the rest of his race, is a critic first of all. Some there are who will say that the bridge will spoil the Liffey, but a look at our illustrations – Mr. Lutyens’s designs – will answer that criticism. Others say that Mt. Lutyens is not an Irishman, and an Irish architect must be employed in these days of Celtic renaissance. But the Dubliner forgets that in accepting the masterpieces of art by Frenchmen, Englishmen, Americans, and other nationalities that are in Sir Hugh Lane’s collection has already allowed a breath of happy inconsistency, and the question of the architect is on all fours with the artists. Besides, Mr. Lutyens, an Englishman, born in London of Dutch origin, had an Irish mother, and his father worked for years as an artist in Dublin. Dublin has not had a great building for a hundred years. Here is a golden opportunity on the threshold of a new era.” The Sphere, September 6 1913.