Nov 26, 2023

A Love Letter To The National Gallery

Ella Hussey discusses the sense of home and comfort that the National Gallery brings.

Ella HusseyRadius Co-Editor

Dear National Gallery, 

My first experience visiting you was on a school tour in my sixth year of secondary school. Although I studied Art History as a subject, I don’t think I understood the full effect that art can have on a person until I visited the gallery. It was such a surreal experience, being able to physically see the paintings that we had only seen in textbooks. They were now in front of me, and I knew that if I reached out I could touch it. Ever since then, I have had a deep-rooted love and appreciation for the National Gallery.

It has always been a place that I long to show my friends. I vividly remember sitting in front of ‘The Taking of Christ’ by Caravaggio alongside my friend, Mia. We both had studied art in school and decided to see the painting two years later. She sat beside me when we were kids learning that it is on indefinite loan from the Jesuits, that Caravaggio actually is in the painting himself, and that it is purposely hung on a red wall. We sit again together embracing a painting we love so much. Now both adults in College, studying Law and English respectively, we left art history within the walls of our old school’s art room. But we always find ourselves returning every little while to see it, knowing it will still be waiting to see us, remaining unchanged. 


Again on my 21st birthday, I brought my friend Sáoirse. A Luxembourg native with an Irish name, I was dying to show her from the minute she touched Irish soil. Showing her Jack B. Yeats’ depiction of ‘The Liffey Swim’, but also his spiral into his works of ‘Grief’, I felt so proud of the art produced by Irish artists, as though I was a proud mother showing them off. We walked around the traditional long galleries decorated with chandeliers but also the converted modern halls, combining the old and new and making them one. It was one of those days that I will never forget.

It is a place I always find myself coming back to, a familiarity with the paintings, knowing I see myself in the busy Irish streets but also in the remote white-washed cottage. Seeing my 17-year-old self in Caravaggio’s work, I’ll forever return to the Gallery which will see every version of me still in love with it. 

All my love, 


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