ROCH (or ROCHE), SAMPSON TOWGOOD

(b. 1759, d. 1847)

Miniature Painter

From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

Sampson Towgood Roch. Picture by Himself; in possession of Mrs. Roch, Woodbine Hill, Co. Waterford.

Son of Luke Roch and grandson of James Roch of Glyn Castle, near Carrick-on-Suir, was born in his father's house in Youghal, in 1759. He was deaf and dumb. While on a visit to some relations in Cashel in 1773 he first showed indications of a talent for drawing, making some sketches of scenery and endeavouring to do small portraits of his friends. His father sent him to Dublin to study, but he put himself under no master, and studying for himself the works of the painters then practising in Dublin, he began to paint likenesses. His name first appears in Dublin as an artist in 1784, when he was practising as a miniature painter at 152 Capel Street; but he had apparently been following his profession in England before that date, as there is a miniature by him of Mrs. Piozzi signed and dated 1782. In 1786 he left Dublin, but returned in 1788, when he issued an advertisement in the "Dublin Evening Post": "Mr. Roche, miniature painter, informs his friends and the public that he has returned to Dublin, and lodges at 152 Capel Street; his improvement in painting and taking likenesses encourages him to solicit the support of a generous public whose bounty he has hitherto so amply experienced." From 1789 to 1792 he was in Grafton Street and seems to have been well patronized; but he left Dublin in 1792 and took up his residence in Bath, where for many years he worked successfully at his profession. He painted several members of the Royal Family and is said to have been offered knighthood, an honour he declined on account of his infirmity. In 1817, from his address, 11 Pierpont Street, Bath, he sent two miniatures to the Royal Academy, his only contribution. Eventually he retired from his profession, and returned to Ireland and lived with his relations at Woodbine Hill, Co. Waterford. He died there in February, 1847, and was buried on the 20th in the family burying-place at Ardmore, Co. Waterford.

Roch's miniatures are amongst the best produced by Irish artists; an excellent example, a "Portrait of a Lady," signed and dated 1788, is in the National Gallery of Ireland. His portrait in miniature, by himself, and one in oils, are at Woodbine Hill.

Other examples of his miniatures are:

The Princess Amelia. Was in the collection of the late Duke of Cambridge.

Lady Kingsmill. Signed and dated 1820. [Lt.-Colonel Hopton Scott, Locksley, Shankill, Co. Dublin.]

Mr. Lee. [Lt.-Colonel W. Alexander, 1904.]

Mrs. Piozzi. Signed and dated, 1782. [Francis Wellesley.]

Mr. Smith of Ballynatray. [Mrs. Wallis, Donnycarney, 1907.]

Portrait of a Lady. Signed and dated, S. T. Roche 1805. [Victoria and Albert Museum.]

Portrait of a Gentleman. Signed and dated, S. T. Roche, 1805. [Victoria and Albert Museum.]

Roch's miniatures are signed S. Roch (sometimes S. Roche) with date.

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