Caravaggio: Celebrating a Masterpiece

Visitors to Beyond Caravaggio in front of the Taking of Christ. © National Gallery of Ireland.
Image © National Gallery of Ireland. Photographer Jack Caffrey, The Pimlico Project, 2017.Credit

Discover the remarkable history of Caravaggio's painting The Taking of Christ

On 16 November 1993, there was talk of a light rail being built to connect the airport to Dublin city centre. It was reported that 15% of Irish primary school students were missing school regularly. Sleepless in Seattle was in Irish cinemas. And, most importantly, a very special event took place in the National Gallery of Ireland: The Taking of Christ (1602) by Caravaggio was unveiled to the public for the first time.

We are grateful to the Jesuit Community, Leeson Street, for placing the painting on indefinite loan to the Gallery, acknowledging the generosity of Dr Marie Lea-Wilson, who had presented the picture to them.

Read on to discover the web of people and circumstances behind the painting.

Photo of a nameplate attached to the frame of Caravaggio's painting

How did a masterpiece by Caravaggio end up in a Dublin dining room?

The remarkable journey of the painting, from Rome to Dublin, revealed.

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Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610), 'The Taking of Christ', 1602. © National Gallery of Ireland

The Taking of Christ by Caravaggio

A new visual approach to the biblical story.

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Dr Marie Lea-Wilson (1887–1971) from group photograph outside Harcourt Street c.1929

The Irish connection

How is Dr Marie Lea-Wilson, a Dublin paediatrician, linked to the painting?

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Newspaper clipping from November 1993 with headline: Lovers of art left speechless.

A masterpiece revealed

On 16 November 1993, two-thousand guests gathered to witness the unveiling.

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Caravaggio 25 Years: Display

In 2018, to mark this twenty-five year anniversary, we held a series of events; installed a temporary display (14 November 2018 - 25 February 2019) revealing the remarkable history of the painting; and commissioned a new poem from acclaimed Dublin poet and playwright Stephen James Smith.