Over the past few decades, visitors to Russborough, County Wicklow have become familiar with the house’s drawing room being painted with honey-toned walls and plasterwork picked out in white. However, research in recent years has shown that this scheme only dates from the mid-20th century and that before then the room was decorated in an altogether more florid manner. Surviving photographs from the 19th century, as well as paint analysis, reveals that originally, while the walls were coloured a soft white, their stuccowork was part-gilded and part-coppered, in a fashion unlike anything else found in Ireland or Britain. Commissioned by Joseph Leeson, first Earl of Milltown and designed by Richard Castle, the leading country house architect of the period, Russborough dates from the mid-18th century and many of its contents were collected by Leeson while he undertook two Grand Tours, both including time spent in Rome. There he encountered French artist Claude-Joseph Vernet and from him commissioned a series of eight landscape paintings to hang in the drawing room. These were gradually dispersed so that by the time Sir Alfred Beit bought the property, none remained. In 1968, he bought back four oval pictures and reinstated them in the empty stucco cartouches. More recently, four other landscape paintings, either by Vernet or his pupil Charles Francois Grenier de Lacroix (also known as Vernet Lacroix) were acquired by the Apollo Foundation and lent to Russborough, so that the drawing room, as known to Joseph Leeson, could be recreated. Following many months of work, it opened to the public earlier this week and is a revelation of 18th century decorative taste in Ireland.