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Watercolours of 18th Century Ireland

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The Library of the Royal Irish Academy houses the greatest collection of watercolour drawings by the Dutch-born artist Gabriel Beranger (c.1729-1817). His adult years spent in Ireland provide us with the most extensive treasury of eighteenth-century coloured views of the country’s ancient monuments. These are found in one large volume (3 C 30), and two smaller post-card-size albums (3 C 31-32), as well as a few separate strays which, together, open up for us a delightful world of the past which is full of pleasant surprises.

Beranger himself was not just an artist, he also had a warehouse full of artist’s supplies in Dublin’s South Great George’s Street, and when patronage of his work declined in the 1780s, his friends were able to get him a job as assistant ledger-keeper in the Exchequer Office ‒ until he married a well-off wife who was able to keep him for the rest of his life in a style to which he would doubtless always like to have been accustomed.

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