Sir Denis Mahon Project

Vintage photograph portrait of Denis Mahon
Sir Denis Mahon. Image © National Gallery of Ireland

In 2010, Sir Denis Mahon presented his library and archive to the Gallery.

The books and documentation represent decades of research and scholarship. This remarkable gift greatly enhances the research resources relating to European art available in Ireland.

Between January and May 2010, a team of library, archive and conservation staff from the Gallery organised and packed the collection at Mahon's house in Knightsbridge, London. Close to 1,000 bankers boxes were then transported to Merrion Square, Dublin.

Rare books in the Sir Denis Mahon Library
Photo of Denis Mahon's reading glasses on a desk

Sir Denis Mahon Library

Over 600 banker’s boxes contained library material. Between 2012 and 2013 these boxes were unpacked and then cleaned to remove surface dirt. The items were sorted and shelved in preparation for processing and cataloguing. Basic preservation work and condition assessments were carried out to identify future conservation requirements. Processing and cataloguing of the library collection began in 2014. The publications include books, catalogues, journals, conference proceedings, guide books and pamphlets. More than 500 rare and antiquarian volumes have been identified and catalogued to date. Highlights of the collection include first and second editions of Giorgio Vasari’s Vite (1550; 1568), Lassels’ Voyage of Italy (1670), and a rare first edition of Annibale Carracci’s Diverse Figure (1646).

Sir Denis Mahon Archive

Sir Denis’s fascinating archive consists of correspondence and academic notes relating to collections and individual works of art, in particular Italian art and artists. A substantial fototeca of photographs, prints and glass plate negatives is of significant research value. In addition, there are papers relating to his work with various committees and boards and his lobbying activity on behalf of the arts. Family papers include details of the Mahon, Browne and Vesey families of Castelgar Co. Galway, and Westport Co. Mayo. The gift also includes furniture, silver and works of art. 

Sir Denis Mahon Reading Room Sir Denis Mahon Reading Room, National Gallery of Ireland.

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