by William Laffan and Brendan Rooney
Large Format Hardback; 60 Euro / 75 USD / 50 UK; 416 pages, 329 illustrations
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Although Thomas Roberts (1748-1777) is justly regarded as the finest Irish landscape painter of the eighteenth century, he is still little appreciated outside specialist circles. This important new publication aims to make his work more widely known and to explore the richness of his landscape art. Roberts died at the age of just 28, having fled Ireland for Portugal to seek respite from the consumption that haunted his last days.
This detailed study publishes many previously unknown works by Roberts, greatly increasing his recognised oeuvre, but it 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.
The book coincides with a retrospective exhibition Thomas Roberts 1748-1777 at the National Gallery of Ireland that runs from 28 March to 28 June, 2009.
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