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Beranger's Antique Buildings of Ireland
Peter Harbison, Editor



 
Irish Studies Review (1999)
‘This delightful collection of eighteenth-century watercolours had to wait over two hundred years for publication. Originally bound as an album, the watercolours were intended as the source of a series of engravings by the Hibernian Antiquarian Society. The engravings were never made, because of the collapse of the society in 1783. The album remained in private hands until 1937, when the National Library purchased it. A selection of watercolours in a second album owned by the Royal Irish Academy was published as Beranger’s Views of Ireland in 1991, edited by Peter Harbison.

Beranger’s Antique Buildings of Ireland not only represents work by Gabriel Beranger, but copies he made of paintings by other landscape artists, notably Jonathan Fisher, Thomas Roberts and William Ashford. In some instances, the originals of these are lost. In his introduction, Harbison pays tribute to the research of Sir William Wilde on Beranger, and gives a balanced assessment of the artist’s achievement. He emphasises that the true value of the watercolours lies in their historical importance, but it is difficult to believe that their appeal could ever have been entirely antiquarian. Surely the ladies and gentlemen placed by Bernager in several scenes are havinf an aesthetic as well as an antiquarian experience? The same ambiguity explains the viewer’s delight in most of the illustraions in this volume. Brief entries are supplied by Harbison for each watercolour. They include a description of any changes in the building or its surroundings, which is useful for the scholar or traveller. All four provinces are represented, but those with a particular interest in Connacht may be disappointed – only one buildingm Boyle Abbey, Co. Roscommon is illustrated’ Maurice Colgan, Irish Studies Review,Vol. 7, No. 2, 1999.

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