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Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Granard Bequest Exhibition at Dublin Castle

Recently, items once owned by the Mills' daughter Beatrice were on display at Dublin Castle. Beatrice married an earl who was originally from Ireland, and they were rumored to have met at Dublin Castle.  Since no one on staff was able to make a quick jaunt over to Ireland, we were happy to be able to learn more about the exhibition from curator Joanne Bannon who was instrumental in researching, creating, and installing the exhibition.

One of the prevailing stories of the Gilded Age was the marriage of wealthy American heiresses to titled Europeans.  These transatlantic marriages brought millions of dollars of American money into Europe, primarily England, and gave newly rich American families the opportunity to boast of a connection to royalty and perhaps include a countess in the family.  The Mills family fit perfectly into this trend when Beatrice, one of Ruth and Ogden's twin daughters, married Bernard Arthur William Patrick Hastings Forbes, the 8th Earl of Granard.  Originally from Ireland, Lord Granard was Lord-in-Waiting to Edward VII from 1905-1907, Master of the Horse to both Edward VII and George V, and served as a member of Seanad Eireann for twelve years.  His eldest son, Arthur, succeeded him as Earl when he passed away in 1948.

Countess (Beatrice Mills) and Bernard Forbes, 8th Earl of Granard, married in 1909

Writes Ms. Bannon: In the Fall of 2014 a new exhibition opened at the State ApartmentsDublin Castle, which showcased items from the Granard bequest.  The Granard bequest is a collection of paintings, sculpture, fine French furniture, clocks, oriental porcelain and other items graciously presented to the Irish nation by Sir Arthur Forbes, 9th Earl of Granard (1915-92) in memory of his parents.  His mother, Lady Granard (Beatrice Mills) stipulated the bequest in her will.  It included items of French furniture, a collection of French clocks, fine paintings including a portrait by Sir Anthony van Dyck and other objects. These were presented by the Earl of Granard in 1973, the year following his mother's death, and accepted by the Prime Minister of Ireland, Liam Cosgrave, for display in the State Apartments, Dublin Castle. 

A panoramic view of Dublin Castle

In making her bequest Beatrice, a glamorous American heiress, daughter of American financier and banker Ogden Mills, was continuing a family tradition of philanthropy. Her father, brother and grandfather, Darius Mills, were all patrons and benefactors of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, among several institutions. Some of the furniture in the Granard Bequest was displayed in the collection at the Metropolitan Museum.

Lord Granard (1874-1948), Beatrice’s husband, was a distinguished statesman before and after Irish Independence.  The Granard family had long-standing links with Dublin Castle.  The Earl and Countess of Granard had residences in London, Paris and Ireland. The furniture presented in the State Apartments came from two of their residences: Castle Forbes, Co. Longford in Ireland and their house at Rue de Varenne in Paris. Their principal residence was at Forbes House, Halkin Street in London, Castle Forbes continues to be the seat of the Earls of Granard today.

Selected items from the Granard Bequest are on permanent display in Dublin Castle.  Here are a few of the wonderful pieces that are currently on display:

Maniere Clock, French. c. 1778-1793 (Granard Bequest, Dublin Castle)

Manière Clock

This clock, made of a very fine bronze and ormolu, was a Louis XVI French piece.  It depicts Diana, Cupid and Endymion on a grey marble base, and also had a garniture, a pair of matching candelabra (not shown).  The convex dial is signed Manière à Paris. Charles-Guillaume Manière (master 1778, died 1812)  was a highly acclaimed master clockmaker and bronze-worker. Other clocks he made have been recorded at Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace and the Palais de Fontainebleau. 

18th Century French armchair (Granard Bequest, Dublin Castle)

Louis XV fauteuil with Beauvais tapestry upholstery

This 18th century French armchair known as a fauteuil has carved gilt wood and Beauvais tapestry upholstery.  A fauteuil is style of open-arm chair, usually made with wood that has been gilded and has an upholstered seat, arms, and back.  The upholstery was produced in the world-renowned Beauvais tapestry workshops which were founded by Jean-Baptiste Colbert, finance minister to Louis XIV, in 1664. The woven wool and silk fabric depicts scenes from the Fables de la Fontaine by Jean de la Fontaine (1621-95). This chair depicts two scenes The Cock and the Fox (Le coq et le renard, II.15) and The Cock and the Pearl (Le coq et perle, I.20).

The Countess’s father Ogden Mills, bequeathed a remarkable collection of French furniture, including this Beauvais fauteuil, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York subject to the life estate of his son Ogden L. Mills. The museum received the bequest when Ogden L. Mills died in 1937 and several of the objects were subsequently sold to his sisters including a set of fauteuils that Lady Granard later included in her bequest to Dublin Castle.

Painting by Anthony van Dyke of Elizabeth Leigh, Countess of Southampton, c. 1640 (Granard Bequest, Dublin Castle)

Anthony van Dyck Portrait

Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) was a Flemish artist who became well known for painting court portraits in England.  His style, which portrayed a relaxed elegance while still displaying a sense of grandeur and authority, dominated court portraiture for over a century after his death. This portrait of Elizabeth Leigh, Countess of Southampton (d.1655) was one of his last paintings before his death the following year.  The painting's subject was the second wife of the 4th Earl of Southampton and the daughter of Francis Leigh, 1st Earl of Chichester.  

For Irish media coverage of the exhibition opening click HERE or HERE.  If you are visiting Dublin Castle, be sure to check out this great exhibition!  

*Many thanks to Ms. Joanne Bannon of Ireland who was the curator for this exhibit and who oversees the permanent collections in the State Apartments at Dublin Castle.  She provided the excellent information and photos included in this blog.


  1. Dear Curator,
    I was most interested to read about the Granard exhibition.

    I am researching the works of the English artist Edmond Brock (1882). In 1925 he visited New York and painted portrauts of the Mills family, including the twin sisters Beatrice (Lady Granard) and Gladys (Mrs Phipps).
    The Mills house at Staatsburgh NY has the original oil painting of Gladys but only a copy of the Lady Granard portrait. I should be most grateful for any information you can give me about its present location.
    Yours sincerely,
    John Sankey PhD
    108 Lancaster Gate London W2 3NW

    1. Mr. Sankey, what is your interest of the Mills family? Are you in the bloodline? I am the great granddaughter, of Niles Mills, and the Great Niece of D. O. Mills. Please reply to Ktkatqt@msn.com. Thank you Kathleen Mills