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 ofbased on his play , 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 asby Paul Signac; by Chaïm Soutine; by Domenico Tintoretto; by Baron François Gérard; by Francisco de Goya; and , 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" has just opened at the National Gallery of Ireland and runs to April 4, 2021.