Site of some of the last surviving vestiges of Ireland’s primeval forests and home to the oldest oak tree on the island, Abbey Leix was settled by Cistercian monks in the late twelfth century. It was subsequently acquired by the Vesey, later de Vesci, family, who commissioned the young James Wyatt to design the mansion at its centre and who cared for Abbey Leix for almost three centuries. More recently it has become home to Welsh businessman Sir David Davies, President of the Irish Georgian Society and President of Wexford Festival Opera, who embarked on a comprehensive restoration project. The book celebrates the beauties of the landscape and gardens of Abbey Leix, it traces the different phases of its building, through unpublished drawings by James and Thomas Henry Wyatt, and chronicles the many individuals who have shaped Abbey Leix over the centuries.
This lavishly illustrated book is the first devoted to the subject of the manufacture and use of wallpaper in Ireland. Drawing on his extensive experience both as a maker and a researcher of historic wallpapers, David Skinner has compiled a detailed survey of the patterns used to decorate Irish houses from the early eighteenth century until the demise of the Irish ‘paper-staining’ trade at the close of the nineteenth century. Journals, letters, invoices and newspaper advertisements are among the sources explored to chart the history of wallpaper in Ireland, the role of emigrant Irish artisans in developing wallpaper manufacture in France and North America, the tax on wallpaper, and the trade in smuggled wallpaper between Ireland and Victorian England. The book will provide an invaluable guide to researchers, architects and those involved in the study of historic interiors. Many of the rooms illustrated are published here for the first time, and include little-known examples of the sumptuous wallpapers imported from China and France, set alongside the products of native ‘paper-stainers’.
Finola O’Kane explores a remarkable album of drawings depicting the suburban demesne of Mount Merrion situated a few miles from Dublin. Part of his bequest to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, the drawings were commissioned in 1804 by the museum’s founder Viscount Fitzwilliam from his friend the landscape painter William Ashford (1746-1824), later to be the inaugural President of the Royal Hibernian Academy. This study by Finola O’Kane publishes the drawings and a series of related paintings for the first time in their entirety. It moves from an exploration of Mount Merrion’s history, architecture and landscape design to wider questions of the Fitzwilliam family’s medieval ancestry; the substantial reach of their Dublin estate; and their enthusiastic role in Dublin’s eighteenth-century property boom which in effect re-orientated the whole city to the east.
Set at the foot of the Slieve Bloom Mountains in the centre of Ireland, Ballyfin is a place of history and romance, of tranquility and great natural beauty. The site has been settled since ancient times and was ancestral home to the O’Mores, the Wellesley-Poles, and latterly, the Cootes; for much of the twentieth century Ballyfin was home to a much-loved school. The house has long been admired as the most lavish Regency mansion in Ireland, the work of the great Irish architects Richard and William Morrison. Over the last decade the magnificent estate has been painstakingly restored to become a small hotel like no other. This book explores the history of the house, landscape and people of Ballyfin. It celebrates the artists and craftsmen who created the house and its wondrous demesne and also those who have now brought it back to its original splendour. It tells the story of the rise, decline and rebirth of one of the most beautiful historic houses in Ireland.
Roberts died at the age of just 28, having fled Ireland for Portugal to seek respite from the consumption that haunted his last years. This detailed study publishes many previously unknown works by Roberts, greatly increasing his recognised oeuvre, but also examines the world of his patrons, who included many of the leading figures of eighteenth-century Ireland. Roberts produced paintings that were distinctive, at times idiosyncratic, but consistently accomplished. This book explores a variety of themes: Roberts’s connections with his Dublin Group contemporaries; the specifically Irish elements of his art; and the way in which his work reflects the interests and mentalité of his patrons. The influences of Irish Grand Tourists and the classical tradition are balanced by that of Irish antiquities. Patriotism, ‘improvement’, emulation, exhibiting practices and the aesthetics of landscape gardening are all themes invoked to illuminate the artistic and social context that Roberts reflects and on occasion shapes.
Although the astonishing quality and variety of Dublin’s Georgian decorative plasterwork has long been celebrated, this is the first full length study of the work of Michael Stapleton, the most skilled stuccador working in the neo-classical or ‘Adam’ style that dominated Dublin interior decoration in the final decades of the eighteenth century. It publishes for the first time the remarkable collection of drawings from his workshop which is held at the National Library of Ireland. Conor Lucey’s study presents much new research and examines the collection of designs within the broader context of neo-classical stuccowork in Dublin, considering it as evidence for the late eighteenth-century plastering trade in general. It offers a fascinating account of the many forces at play in how the Irish Georgian interior was shaped.
Over several decades the eminent art historian Desmond FitzGerald, Knight of Glin, assembled a collection of views of Ireland ranging in date from the mid-eighteenth century until today. In Painting Ireland a selection of these is catalogued and discussed in close readings, The interdisciplinary approach to the material crosses boundaries of art, architectural, social and local history. While there is a particular focus on depictions of the great houses of Ireland, there are also images of castles, townscapes, gardens and garden buildings, archaeological remains and interiors. The publication is the most in-depth catalogue yet attempted of an Irish private collection.
Preserved in an album in Birr Castle for two hundred and sixty years, the fantastical and bizarre world of Samuel Chearnley is revealed in this the first edition of Miscelanea Structura Curiosa. In October 1745 Chearnley embarked on a project of paper architecture, producing over eighty drawings for grottoes, obelisks, pyramids, fountains and triumphal arches. Sadly Chearnley died at the age of twenty-nine shortly after dating the last of the drawings; his treatise was not published and none of the designs in the album was built. The present volume finally publishes these remarkable images in their entirety for the first time. Freed from the constraints of bricks and mortar, Chearnley allows his imagination to soar to heights of architectural fantasy unparalleled in Ireland in the eighteenth century.
The discovery in Australia of an album of unknown drawings by Hugh Douglas Hamilton (1740-1808) caused a sensation in Irish historical and art historical circles. The album is unique in eighteenth-century Irish art in its realistic depiction of the most humble citizens of Dublin, the hawkers who made their living on the streets of the capital. Almost entirely ignored in the art of the period, the urban poor are here depicted going about their daily lives. The album provides a panorama of eighteenth-century Dublin – beggars, tricksters, hawkers of fish, fruit, wigs and brogues. The Cries of Dublin publishes the drawings for the first time and includes essays by an international team of scholars exploring the images from historical, economic, stylistic and iconographical perspectives.