Doyle, Henry Edward (1827–92), artist and gallery director, was born in Dublin, third of seven children and third of five sons of John Doyle (qv), political cartoonist, of Dublin, and Marianna Doyle (née Conan; d. 1832). He was the only one of the children to be born in his father's native city, the others being born in London, where John Doyle had settled in 1821. Henry Doyle returned to Dublin to train as an artist before establishing himself in London as a painter of portraits and religious subjects. In 1844 he spent a brief period producing illustrations for Punch magazine (for which his brother Richard (qv) also worked), and between 1867 and 1869 drew cartoons for Fun magazine.
The predominance of religious themes in Doyle's artistic work reflects the fact that he remained a devout catholic throughout his life and was closely associated with the church. In 1862 he was appointed commissioner for the papal states to the London International Exhibition; in the same year he was created a knight of the Order of Pius IX. In November 1880 he was made CB, and in 1884 he was appointed a JP for Co.Wicklow. Throughout his life his political outlook was strongly unionist.
Doyle maintained closer links with Ireland than any other member of his family. In 1864 he painted frescos in the chapel of the Dominican convent at Cabra, Dublin. He exhibited his portrait in watercolour of Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman (1802–65), archbishop of Westminster, at the Dublin exhibition of arts and manufactures in 1865. This work is now in the collection of the NGI, Dublin, as are a number of other watercolours and drawings by Doyle, including a portrait in pencil of John Ruskin (1819–1900) and a portrait of his brother Richard Doyle in oils. He was elected an associate member of the RHA in 1872, becoming a full member in 1874.
In February 1869 the directorship of the NGI became vacant with the death of George Mulvany (qv). Applicants for the post included Stephen Catterson Smith (qv) and Michael Angelo Hayes (qv), but Doyle was appointed on 22 March 1869. During his time as director of the gallery his shrewd purchasing brought a number of highly significant works into the collection. These include ‘The rest on the flight into Egypt’ by Rembrandt, ‘The martyrdom of SS Cosmas and Damien’ by Fra Angelico, and ‘The entombment’ by Nicholas Poussin, as well as works by (among others) Reynolds, Gainsborough, and Titian. He also developed the collection through his policy of acquiring Irish art and by establishing the national portrait collection in 1884. The latter had been an aim of his for some time: he had organised an exhibition of Irish portraits in Dublin in 1872. Further evidence of the importance of his contribution to the development of the gallery in these years lies with his publication of revised editions of the catalogue (1875, 1879, 1890) and his rehanging of the collection according to schools. In 1891 Doyle submitted to the treasury plans drawn up by Sir Thomas Newenham Deane (qv) for an extension to the gallery building. However, he did not live to see this project come to fruition as he died suddenly in London on 17 February 1892. He married (1866) Jane, daughter of Nicholas Ball (qv), justice of the common pleas in Ireland.