Bank of America Merrill Lynch is sponsoring the restoration of the painting The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife, in Dublin's National Gallery. Viewed by about 750,000 people a year, it is one of the most popular works in the gallery's permanent collection.
The 3 x 5m painting by Cork artist Daniel Maclise dates from 1854 and depicts the marriage of Norman invader Richard de Clare, known as Strongbow, to Aoife, daughter of the king of Leinster Dermot McMurrough. The event is traditionally regarded as a turning point in Irish history as the marriage symbolised the start of 800 years of British rule in Ireland.
The gallery has removed the painting from display and the two year restoration project will involve stretching the canvas over a purpose-built platform from which art conservationists will apply their skills. Webcam footage of the process can be followed by members of the public from March 2011 on the gallery's revamped website which includes an online archive of paintings to which the gallery is continuously adding.
Merrill Lynch employs 1,700 people in Ireland and said the project was being funded through its international art conservation programme.