This gallery houses a small but fine collection of European works from the 14th to the 20th centuries, including paintings by Caravaggio (in Room 42), Tintoretto, Titian, Monet, Degas, Goya, Vermeer and Picasso. A room is also devoted to painter Jack Yeats, who developed an impressionistic style particularly suited to the Irish landscape. Look out, too, for works by Paul Henry, Roderic O'Conor, William Orpen, Nathaniel Hone and Walter Osborne.
The smaller British collection is also impressive, with works by Hogarth, Landseer and Gainsborough, and every January an exhibition of Turner's watercolours draws art lovers from all over the world. Giovanni Lanfranco's magnificent Last Supper (in the equally impressive Baroque Room - more prosaically, Room 44) is a sight worth goggling at, as many do on a daily basis. The gallery's fabulous Millennium Wing has also been a big draw since its opening; it provides a new entrance on Clare Street, light-drenched galleries, and the obligatory - albeit lovely - restaurant, café and gift shop.
Regular changing exhibitions range in subject from Samuel Beckett's interest in fine art to the history of printmaking. There is also a strong educational programme at the Gallery, which encompasses talks and lectures (on subjects as diverse as the Great Masters and 'architectural intelligence'), as well as short courses led by local and visiting artists. It is worth consulting the website to see what events might be on during your visit - tickets may run to, say, €35 for an 'art and supper lecture', but can you put a price on cultural enrichment? Discuss.
Note for visitors
The Merrion Square gallery is undergoing refurbishment between 2012-13, and visitors are advised that access will be via the Millenium Wing, Clare Street, Dublin 2. If you're concerned about any disruption to specific exhibits, contact the gallery on + 353 1 661 5133 or email email@example.com. See the official website (linked below) for regularly updated information.