In 1879 The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife entered the collection of the National Gallery of Ireland as a gift from Sir Richard Wallace. In 1903 the painting was framed and hung in Room 1 of the new Portrait Gallery on the ground floor of the Dargan Wing.
By April 1966 the painting was in need of some conservation treatments. Over the years the varnish had oxidized and darkened which dulled the colors and obscured the details of the painting. The painting was cleaned with mild organic solvents revealing the vivid colors that Maclise had used.
In 1967 the Gallery purchased a watercolour by Daniel Maclise on the subject of The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife from Agnew’s, London.
In 1977 the painting was moved from Room 1 into the Shaw Room on the ground floor of the Dargan Wing. Moving such a large painting (315 x 513 cm) proved to be a challenging task. The canvas was removed from its supporting stretcher and rolled onto a large drum which was carried into the new exhibition space.
By 1996 the varnish that was applied in the previous conservation treatment was quite yellowed. It was decided that the painting would be treated in situ. Minor retouchings to reduce the appearance of old damages were also carried out with stable and reversible conservation materials. Additionally, the painting which had been originally folded for transit purposes was substantially weakened around it’s edges. Although these areas required conservation treatment to stabilize the condition of the painting, it was not possible to address these concerns whilst the painting was still hanging. De-installation of the painting in 2010 has enabled the conservation team to have full access to tackle the issues of structural stability ensuring the painting is available for current and future generations to enjoy.
Over the years four other works in oil by Maclise, and a number of works on paper were acquired by the Gallery; the NGI library also holds a number of books which were illustrated by Maclise.
Floorplan of the National Gallery of Ireland from 1904
Click on the floorplan below to view a larger image