Strickland: A Dictionary Of Irish Artists

Pdf Strickland, Walter, A Dictionary of Irish Artists, Vol 1 A to K, Dublin and London: Maunsel & Company, 1913
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Pdf Strickland, Walter, A Dictionary of Irish Artists, Vol 2, L to Z, Dublin and London: Maunsel & Company, 1913
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A Dictionary of Irish Artists by Walter G. Strickland (1851-1928) was published in two volumes in 1913. The labouriously researched work draws from extensive and widely varied sources. Strickland sought to produce the dictionary to remedy the neglect of the subject of Irish art and to recover the memory of Irish artists who had disappeared into obscurity. Each entry includes important biographical information and details of their work. Portraits and examples of Irish art are also included with the text illustrated with hundreds of plates.

Strickland focuses on painters, sculpters and engravers and excludes architects which he intended to cover in a separate work. At first he intended to include only those Irish artists who worked in Ireland, whether or not of Irish birth, and to exclude those who had made careers entirely outside of the country. However, it was clear that such criteria would have restricted the scope of the dictionary considerably.

Strickland therefore firstly includes Irish artists who made careers in Ireland and secondly includes Irish artists who made careers in England and further afield. Strickland felt that his original criteria would have excluded artists such as Natanial Hope, Francis Cotes, William Mulready and many others.

For centuries, monarchs, nobles, aristocrats and later merchants, industrialists and the middle classes adorned their castles, palaces, mansions and houses with oil painted portraits, landscapes and depictions of Greek and Roman mythology or episodes from Christian history. Statues decorated gardens while walls and ceilings of the homes of the wealthy were richly decorated with murals and engravings. Irish artists made their living throughout the world helping to meet this demand.

Strickland gained access to private collections, met with descendants of artists and corresponded with experts for his research. Many owners of art works who learned of Strickland's project freely facilitated access to letters, diaries and notes relating to artists and their works.

Walter George Strickland (1850-1928) was born in Cumbria, England in 1850 and was educated at Ushaw College and King’s College, Cambridge. As a child he holidayed in the west of Ireland where his uncle was agent for the Viscount Dillon. His enthusiasm for art led eventually to a career as Registrar of the National Gallery of Ireland from 1894-1914. Strickland created a catalogue of portraits using his knowledge of Irish biographies. At the same time, he worked on A Dictionary Of Irish Artists, requiring two decades to complete in 1913.

In 1915, Sir Hugh Lane was lost at sea following the sinking of the Lusitania during World War I. Strickland was appointed acting Director of the National Gallery of Ireland in his place. With little or no funds due to wartime austerity, Strickland continued the work of the gallery before he eventually retired in 1916. He was elected to the Royal Irish Academy and served on its council in the late 1910s and mid to late 1920s and was Vice President for a time.

Strickland lived in the city of Dublin for most of his career but in later years moved to Blackrock, Co. Dublin where he died in 1928.

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