A Dictionary of Irish Artists: Preface

From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

This work is intended to give as fully as possible an account of the Lives and Works of the Artists of Ireland from the earliest times to the present day. Of the long succession of Painters, Sculptors and Engravers in this country but little has hitherto been recorded; comparatively few have found a place in biographical dictionaries, and such information as is obtainable from books is meagre. It was the experience of the want of any available source from which a knowledge of our native artists and their works could be obtained that led to the undertaking of this book. For some years every means has been taken to collect facts and to bring together materials, and the results are now embodied in this Dictionary of Irish Artists.

The aim of the Author has been to include notices not only of every artist of any note who has worked in Ireland, but of those of Irish birth, many of them distinguished, who have followed their profession in England and elsewhere. The history of art in Ireland has been so long neglected that it is now difficult, and in many cases impossible, to recover details concerning its professors. There were painters in the early eighteenth century of consequence in their day, but low forgotten and unrecognized, whose works show that they were artists of considerable merit; there were many who have left either no known works, or few which deserve record; but it is about these forgotten and obscure artists that information is often desired, and it is hoped that the notices of these, embodying such facts as can now be recovered, will rescue their names from oblivion, and may help in the identification of their works.

It was originally intended to confine the scope of this work only to those artists, whether of Irish birth or not, who have worked in Ireland, and to exclude Irish artists whose art careers lay entirely outside their own country. By this arrangement the names of many eminent artists of Irish birth would have been omitted, such as Nathaniel Hone, Francis Cotes, William Mulready and many others who, though Irish born, can hardly be regarded as Irish artists. It has, however, been considered advisable to include them; and the scope of the work, therefore, embraces: 1st, Painters, Sculptors and Engravers, whether of Irish birth or not, who have worked in Ireland; 2nd, Artists of Irish birth who have worked entirely in England and elsewhere out of Ireland. Living artists are not dealt with.

Architects are not included. It is hoped to treat of them, and of Art-craftsmen, in a future volume, for which considerable material has already been collected.

In addition to the biographical notices, lists of each artist's known works are given as fully as possible, and the Index contains references to all portraits and to all owners of works recorded in the book.

In the Appendix is given an account of the various Societies of Artists and Art Institutions in Ireland from the earliest period.

The materials for this work have been gathered from many and varied sources: Wills, Census Returns, Parish Registers and other MS. records in the Public Record Office and Registry of Deeds Office in Dublin; the Registrar-General's Offices in Dublin and London; the British Museum; MS. Notes on Irish Artists, by J. Cooper Walker; MS. and printed Records of the Royal Dublin Society; MS. Records o: the Blue-coat School, Dublin; MS. Records of the Corporation of Painter-Stayners and Cutlers, the Guild of St. Luke, in Dublin; MS. Records of the Royal Hibernian Academy; Minute Books of the National Gallery of Ireland; Minute Books of the Irish Institution;

"Pue's Occurrences," "Faulkner's Journal," "Sleator's Gazetteer," "Freeman's Journal," "Hibernian Journal," "Dublin Chronicle," "Dublin Courant," "Saunders' Newsletter," "Dublin Evening Post," "Cork Examiner," "The Patriot," the "Hibernian Magazine," "Exshaw's Magazine," "Dublin University Magazine," "The Citizen," "Anthologia Hibernica," and many other Dublin newspapers and periodicals of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, which have been laboriously searched; the "Gentleman's Magazine," "Annual Register," Reports of the Historical MSS. Commission, Calendar of the Ancient Records of the City of Dublin, Walpole's "Anecdotes of Painting," Taylor's "Fine Arts of the British School," old Dublin Directories, Pasquin's "Artists of Ireland," Journals of various antiquarian and archaeological societies; "Society for the Preservation of Memorials of the Dead"; "The Art Journal," "Magazine of Art," "Portfolio,"

"Connoisseur," "Burlington Magazine" and other Art publications and monographs on Artists; Catalogues of the Exhibitions of the various Societies of Artists in Dublin and of the Royal Hibernian Academy; Catalogues and Reports of the Royal rish Art Union; Catalogues of various other Dublin and provincial exhibitions; Catalogues of the Society of Artists and the Free Society in London; Catalogues of the Royal Academy, the British Institution, the Royal Society of British Artists, the Old Water-colour Society and other Societies in London; Sale Catalogues, Dublin and London; Catalogues of the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Gallery of Ireland, and of other public and private collections.

During the progress of the work I have been helped by the kindness and courtesy of those who have responded to my numerous inquiries and applications for information; owners of pictures have freely given access to their co lections, descendants and relations of artists have placed at my disposal letters, diaries and notes, and many interested in the work have furnished me with valuable materials. For all this assistance, without which this work could hardly have been written, I desire to tender and record my most grateful and sincere thanks.

W. G. S.


November, 1913

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