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Public Lecture – Captain Smith’s Military Paintings

Captain Smith’s illustration of Fethard, Co. Tipp.. (MS 942)

As part of Heritage Week 2019 (17-25 August) the Library is hosting a public lecture, on 20 August, on its collection of 19th-century military paintings.

Captain Sir William Smith (1778-1832 ), a military engineer,  bequeathed to the Library a two-volume collection of his paintings. Smith was a captain in the Royal Engineers’ Office in Buncrana in 1824 and was responsible for the building of a number of Napoleonic-era signal towers in Donegal, under Major-General Sir Charles Ross. His paintings depict military architecture, antiquarian buildings and artefacts, and landscapes, mostly across Ireland and some from Scotland. 

Smith’s work was the subject of the Library’s very first digitisation project, over a decade ago, a fact that we celebrated with a online exhibition guest-curated by Colm Murray, the architectural officer of the Heritage Council of Ireland. To mark Heritage Week 2019 (17-25 August) the Library is collaborating with the Heritage Council of Ireland in offering a free public lecture, by Colm Murray,  on the military paintings in Smith’s bequest. Colm has a long-time fascination with the Smith paintings, working to identify those which are not clearly labelled; he points out that virtually all Smith’s Irish drawings are of landscapes seen through the evaluative eye of a military man.

Conservation on the Smith paintings. Removing the backing.

In addition, the Senior Consrvator in the Library, Clodagh Neligan, who has been working on the first volume of these paintings, will speak about them from the point of view of their physical condition and her treatment of them. 

The lecture will take place at 2 pm on 20 August 2019, in the Henry Jones Room of the Old Library, (access via Front square). This event is free and must be registered for through Eventbrite.



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