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 mentalitéof 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.
‘…a landmark in writing on Irish painting.’ (Toby Barnard, Apollo)
‘a monumental analysis of Roberts’s training, overall output and individual works, but also a welcome contribution to debates on the meaning of landscape art.’ (Olivia Horsfall Turner, Artefact)