George Furlong, Director 1935 - 1950

George Furlong, NGI Director 1935-1950 (Portrait by Harriet Kirkwood, 1880-1953, NGI.4043)

Dr. George Furlong (1898–1987) was appointed Director of the Gallery in 1935. He immediately set about making changes, and for the first time since the turn of the century pictures were hung on the line.  

Born in Ireland, Furlong had studied in the Sorbonne, and the Universities of Munich and Vienna.  Prior to taking up his role in the Gallery he had worked in the Tate Gallery and the National Gallery, London.  His fourteen years as Director were spent dealing with challenges brought about by limited funds and public indifference towards the Gallery.  

Furlong’s tenure also coincided with the Second World War, and the Office of Public Works corresponded with Furlong as early as 1937 regarding ‘the question of the protection of works of Art in a time of war or civil disorder.’ Upon the outbreak of war, the Department of Education deliberated over a safe location for the storage of paintings. Twenty four cases containing the best works were initially stored in the vaults of the Bank of Ireland, College Green, before being moved, in 1942, to the Preparatory College of Tourmakeady, County Mayo, accompanied by attendant, Thomas O’Leary.

Furlong’s acquisitions include Gentileschi’s David and Goliath, Morisot’s Le Corsage Noir, and Walter Osborne's In a Dublin Park