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Sunday 20 October 2019

Lusitania art masterpieces risk being lost forever as shipwreck rots

Doomed: The Lusitania
Doomed: The Lusitania

Seán McCárthaigh

Artefacts from the shipwreck of the Lusitania, including famous masterpieces by Monet, Rembrandt and Rubens, risk being lost forever because of the deteriorating condition of the vessel, according to a heritage group.

The voluntary group, which is planning a new museum dedicated to the story of the Lusitania in Kinsale, Co Cork, claims up to 24 paintings by renowned artists worth around €300m may have been on board the famous Cunard Line vessel when it was torpedoed by a German U-boat on May 7, 1915, during a voyage from New York to Liverpool.

The paintings were in the possession of Hugh Lane, a well-known art collector and director of the National Gallery of Ireland, who was one of 1,198 passengers and crew killed when the ship sank around 19km south of the Old Head of Kinsale.

The Lusitania Museum/Old Head Signal Tower Heritage Company has warned that many remaining artefacts on board the vessel are in danger of being lost forever because of the worsening condition of the shipwreck.

The group told the Oireachtas Culture Committee the paintings were in lead tubes so could be restored. The tubes were designed to withstand leakage and flooding. The committee heard the wreck was in poor condition and had "collapsed in on itself" with "the main steel rotting".

Irish Independent

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