Ireland: Crossroads of Art and Design V


As a regular visitor to Powerscourt, County Wicklow surely Edmund Burke must have been inspired in his emerging concept of the sublime by the landscape in this part of the country. Certainly aspects of the Powerscourt estate would appeal to many artists, not least the waterfall – the tallest in Ireland – which was painted many times. But the setting of the house, designed in the 1730s by Richard Castle, also proved irresistible, not least to George Barret who was encouraged by Burke to look directly at nature for greater authenticity in his art. On the other hand Barret’s view of Powerscourt, dating from 1760-62 cannot be regarded as altogether authentic: he has exaggerated the height and proportions of the Sugarloaf Mountain in order to provide the work with more drama.

4 comments on “Ireland: Crossroads of Art and Design V

  1. jtjphelan says:

    I must read more about Edmund Burke as he is one of my more illustrious ancestors on the Maternal side through the Nagles’, also included in this would be Nano Nagle the founder of the Presentation Order.

    Any suggested reading advice on either or both Robert?

    • Apologies, I ought to be better able to help you with this, but my mind is so filled with all things American at present, since my body is on this side of the Atlantic, that I find it difficult to think of anything else. There was a fine biography of Burke as I recall written some years ago by Conor Cruise O’Brien – are you familiar with that? I would not be so good at recalling titles of works concerning Nano Nagle, altho’ I am sure there are plenty of hagiographies available…

  2. Very jealous that you have seen this in reality… With the digital version I have seen, the detail on the front of the house is incredible. It’s worth noting that the garden front of the house hasn’t been built at the time of painting. Your readers might be interested in this Irish Arts Review article which is available online, which discusses Romantic paintings of Wicklow landscapes more, and has some discussion on this painting.

    Thank you for your posts this week – I loved them!

    • Dear Michael,
      Thank you for getting in touch and for adding that link for readers, which will certainly be of interest. The painting is a delight, beautifully clean and with a wonderful perspective of the house.
      I’m so glad you are enjoying the posts: they’re not over just yet…

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