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    When playwright George Bernard Shaw left one third of his posthumous royalties to the National Gallery no one could have guessed that it would amount to one of the largest ever gifts to the arts in Ireland.  With the production of My Fair Lady based on his play Pygmalion, a Broadway success in 1956 and a popular film in 1964, these royalties hugely increased.  The Gallery received its first Shaw bequest royalties in 1957 of £10,000 and by the end of 1959 over €240,000 had been received.  The first purchases were made in 1959. The Shaw bequest, which ends this year, has enabled the acquisition of masterpieces such as The Terrace, Saint-Tropez by Paul Signac; Landscape with Flight of Stairs by Chaïm Soutine; Venice, Queen of the Adriatic by Domenico Tintoretto; Julie Bonaparte as Queen of Spain by Baron François Gérard; El Sueño by Francisco de Goya; and An Interior with Members of a Family, attributed to Strickland Lowry. Shaw, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925, spent many hours in the gallery as a child and called it the place to which he owed:  “much of the only real education I ever got as a boy in Eire.”  A special display entitled Shaw and the Gallery: A Priceless Education  runs at the National Gallery of Ireland to April 4, 2021.

    John Collier (1850-1934) – Portrait of George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) © National Gallery of Ireland.

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