ROBERTS, THOMAS

(b. about 1749, d. 1778)

Landscape Painter

From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

Was the eldest son of John Roberts, an architect in Waterford (who died in 1796), by his wife Mary Susanna (died 1800), daughter of Major Francis Sautelle, a French officer who had served under William III, and had settled in Waterford about 1690. Thomas was born in Waterford about 1749, and as a boy entered the Dublin Society's School in 1763, where he obtained a prize the same year. He was also a pupil of Butts (q.v.) and of George Mullins (q.v.). Mullins kept an ale-house in Temple Bar, and his pupil, says Pasquin, "acquired his pocket-money by painting the black eyes of those persons who had been fighting and bruising one another in his master's tap-room in the preceding evening." Amidst such surroundings the young artist acquired habits which undermined his health and brought on a pulmonary complaint which eventually proved fatal. In 1766 he made his first appearance as an exhibitor, sending, from Mullins' house in Temple Bar, three landscapes to the Society of Artists in William Street.

One of these pictures gained for the artist the premium given by the Dublin Society for the best landscape. From the same address he exhibited in the two following years; and then starting for himself as a landscape painter, he was an exhibitor every year until 1777. He gained considerable reputation as an artist, and was patronized by the Duke of Leinster, Lord Powerscourt and others. In 1768 the Dublin Society awarded him the prize for the second best landscape, Jonathan Fisher (q.v.) being first; and in 1772 he obtained first prize for a picture exhibited in William Street. He again carried off a premium in 1777. The ill-health from which he suffered compelled him to leave Ireland and seek a milder climate. He sailed for Lisbon in 1777, but soon after his arrival he died in March, 1778. Roberts' landscapes, generally of park-like scenery and country seats, were freshly and soundly painted. Two "Views of Carton" were exhibited by him in 1775 and another in 1777. A "View of Beauparc" and a "View of Lucan" were engraved by Thomas Milton (q.v.) in "Views of Gentlemen's Seats in Ireland."

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