Wicklow Through The Artists Eye

Patrica Butler, co- author speaks in the Orangery at Kilruddery at the launch on 4th June 2014
Sean Rainbird, Director of the National Gallery of Ireland addresses the crowd at the launch


A new book on Wicklow’s historic gardens was published this spring. Wicklow through the artist’s eye, an exploration of County Wicklow’s historic gardens, c. 1660–c. 1960, by Patricia Butler and Mary Davies, is the first book to chronicle Wicklow’s historic demesnes and gardens from two unique viewpoints — those of the artists who painted them and the travellers who left detailed descriptions.

An outline of the history of each garden is used as a framework in which to discuss the paintings and drawings, many of them previously unknown, together with the accounts of travellers who visited ‘The Garden of Ireland’ over a period of three hundred years.

More than twenty demesnes and gardens are featured, ranging from the very well-known such as Powerscourt and Killruddery, through those that have disappeared like Bellevue and Blessington, to lesser-known ones such as Glenart, Hollybrook and Castle Howard. The Dargle Glen, Devil’s Glen and Pollaphuca, once important tourist destinations, are also included.

There are more than 200 illustrations, gathering together for the first time views from many public, private and printed sources. A major feature is that a substantial number of the paintings and drawings, together with some important photographs, are newly-discovered. This collection of Wicklow views forms a rich archive of interest to scholars, local historians and tourism promoters as well as to the general reader. The text extracts, also drawn from many sources, will be of similar benefit.

Patricia Butler is an art historian living in County Wicklow. Her previous books include Irish botanical illustrators and flower painters (2000) and most recently The silent companion: an illustrated history of the Water Colour Society of Ireland (2010). Mary Davies is a former editor in the Royal Irish Academy, and author of That favourite resort: a history of Bray, County Wicklow (2007). She is currently Garden History editor of The Irish Garden magazine.

Sean Rainbird, Director of the National Gallery of Ireland, launched the book in the Orangery at Killruddery, which features in the book.

Wicklow through the artist’s eye is published by Wordwell, price €40, and is available in bookshops and from www.wordwellbooks.com.


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