Gift of a Lifetime

Treasures from Chester Beatty's collection

From objects of the greatest beauty crafted for powerful rulers to treasures tracing the history of world religions, this exhibition featured artworks capturing the breadth and wonder of Beatty’s exceptional legacy.

Walsingham Bible
c. 1153
Walsingham, England
CBL W 022

Pagoda from Darani Prayer from the Darani of One Million Pagodas
CBL J 1697.1

Gospel book
Late 11th or early 12th century
Byzantine Empire (modern Turkey or Greece)
CBL W 139

Ruzbihan Qur’an
Ruzbihan Muhammad al-Tab‘i al-Shirazi
Mid-16th century
Shiraz, Iran
CBL Is 1558

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Sir Alfred Chester Beatty’s magnificent bequest, the exhibition Gift of a Lifetime presented a choice selection of masterpieces from this unique collection. An internationally successful mining magnate and generous philanthropist, Beatty was one of the most prolific and discerning collectors of his generation. From his early years in New York, through his career in London and travels overseas, Beatty acquired rare books, manuscripts and decorative arts of the highest quality and rarity from Europe, the Middle East and Asia.


Chester Beatty walking down Mont Dore street.
c. 1934

Following his retirement, Beatty brought these collections to Ireland, later placing them in trust to the nation on his death in 1968. From objects of the greatest beauty crafted for powerful rulers to treasures tracing the history of world religions, the artworks featured in this exhibition and accompanying catalogue captured the breadth and wonder of this exceptional legacy: a gift to the nation, for Ireland to share with the world.


  • List
  • Grid
  • Slideshow
  • Image of Folio from the Gospel of Mark, 200-250 AD Egypt, CBL BP I f.7

    Mark 8.34-9.8 from Four Gospels and Acts
    200–250 AD
    CBL BP I f.7

    1 / 9

  • Scroll 1 of the Song of Lasting Sorrow
    Kanō Sansetsu (1590–1651)
    Late 1640s
    Kyoto, Japan
    CBL J 1158.1

    2 / 9

  • The Book of Ritual and Story of the Monk Kalaka
    Gujarat, India
    CBL InE 1651

    3 / 9

  • Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan with their Ministers
    Agra, India
    CBL In 07A.19

    4 / 9

  • The Simurgh carries Zal to her nest from the Shahnama
    Attributed to Sadiqi Bek
    Late 16th century
    Qazvin, Iran
    CBL Per 277.12

    5 / 9

  • Adoration of the Magi from the Beatty Rosarium
    Simon Bening (1483–1561)
    Bruges, Belgium
    CBL W 099 f.20

    6 / 9

  • Prayer from Darani of One Million Pagodas
    CBL J 1697.2

    7 / 9

  • Chapters 10,110 to 10,112 of the Great Encyclopedia of the Yongle Reign
    CBL C 1757

    8 / 9

  • Ibn al-Bawwab Qur’an
    Ibn al-Bawwab
    Baghdad, Iraq
    CBL Is 1431

    9 / 9

Open today 10am–5pm

Monday to Friday 10am–5pm
Saturday 11am–5pm
Sunday 1pm–5pm

Closed Mondays: Nov - Feb

**Closed 1 Jan; Good Friday; 24-26 Dec & Monday Public Holidays.**

Admission is free
Suggested donation €5


Chester Beatty
Dublin Castle
Dublin 2
D02 AD92