David Barry, First Earl of Barrymore (1604-1642)

David Barry, 1st Earl Barrymore

Ascribed to T. Luigi (1604-1642), Oil on canvas; 88.5 x 81cm
Inscribed on canvas, top left “A 1636 AE. Ts. Mths 9 TL”

When this portrait was examined in preparation for the exhibition Portraits & People: Art in Seventeenth Century Ireland at the Crawford Art Gallery, Cork in 2010, Director Peter Murray threw up several anomalies. The name plate informs the viewer that this is a portrait of David Barry, 1st Earl Barrymore, 1605-1642 (he was in fact born in 1604); the inscription on the canvas tells us that the sitter was aged 66 and 9 months at the time of painting, and yet the year 1636 would have made David Barry 32, making it all rather confusing …

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Thomas Roberts (1748-1777), ‘A Landstorm’

Thomas Roberts 'A Landstorm'

Thomas Roberts (1748-1777)
A landstorm, a mountainous landscape with travellers at a bridge
Oil on canvas; 96 x 132cm

This must be one of the stars of Fota’s important collection of eighteenth-century Irish landscape paintings. There is plenty of energy within the painting – the viewer can almost feel the gust of wind which has caused the travellers in the foreground to huddle into their coats and hang on to their hats with their animals plodding up the rear. The imaginary landscape has it all – the steeply rising, bare peak in the background to the right; water gushing over rocks and rushing under a small stone bridge to the left and trees of varying sizes having their branches twisted and pushed in the wind. There are no houses in the landscape; just one lonely and deserted church with its scattered graveyard sits in the distance. We do not know who the travellers are – it is not important as this was intended as a landscape painting, not a portrait. Perhaps the artist has painted himself into the work for the fun of it…?

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Hugh Douglas Hamilton (1740-1808), Portrait of Mrs Hartley (c.1773)

Hugh Douglas Hamilton , Mrs Hartley

Hugh Douglas Hamilton (1740-1808), RHA, Mrs Hartley (c.1750-1824), c.1773
Pastel on paper; 23 x 20cm
The upward gaze given to the sitter of this portrait is a clue to her identity. Elizabeth Hartley (née White) was an actress in eighteenth-century England, first making her appearance at Covent Garden in 1772. Hartley was known more for the beauty of her vivid red hair and freckles than for her acting abilities – many critics of the time commenting on her grating voice…

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George Elgar Hicks (1824-1914), Portrait of Geraldine Smith-Barry, 1885

George Elgar Hicks (British, 1824-1914), Portrait of Geraldine Smith-Barry, 1885

George Elgar Hicks (British, 1824-1914), Portrait of Geraldine Smith-Barry, 1885

Oil on canvas; 90.5 x 70cm. Signed and dated lower right ‘G E Hicks 1885’

This is recognised as being a portrait of a young Geraldine Smith-Barry, later Honorable (or Hon. for short) because of her father’s peerage of Baron Barrymore conferred on him at King Edward’s coronation in 1902. Geraldine was born in 1869 at the smart address of 26 Chesham Place, London, first child to Arthur Hugh Smith-Barry and his wife Mary Wyndham Quin and likely named after her father’s sister Geraldine. The portrait is signed and dated in the bottom right hand corner ‘G E Hicks 1885’, making the Geraldine 15 or 16 years of age at the time the paint dried on the canvas. She is depicted in a relaxed, pensive and ladylike pose, wearing youthful and fashionable clothing, including a black silk or velvet choker – the kind often seen in the paintings of Manet and Degas. The background is loose and generic, not intended to take from the main subject …

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