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Robert Healy, 1743–1771, British

Tom Conolly of Castletown Hunting with His Friends

Pastel, chalk, and white gouache on moderately thick, moderately textured, cream laid paper
Sheet (two joined sheets): 20 1/4 × 53 1/2 inches (51.4 × 135.9 cm) and Frame: 26 1/16 × 59 1/8 × 3 3/16 inches (66.2 × 150.2 × 8.1 cm)

Signed and dated in black pastel, lower left: "R Healy delint. 1769"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
dogs (animals) | horses (animals) | hunting | portrait | sporting art
Associated Places:
Associated People:
Conolly, Thomas (1738–1803), politician
Accessible by request in the Study Room [Request]
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In his memoirs the Irish actor John O’Keefe recalled that his friend Healy “excelled at drawing in chalks, portraits, etc., but his chief forte was horses which he delineated so admirably that he got plenty of employment from those who had hunters, mares, or Ladies palfreys” (O'Keefe, 1826, vol. 1, p. 28). The only known evidence of Healy’s work in this genre, however, is a remarkable series of eight drawings made for the Conollys of Castletown in the late 1760s. Castletown, in County Kildare, was built in the 1720s by the wealthy Whig politician William Conolly. At his death in 1729 the Palladian mansion was still unfinished but, when his great-nephew Tom and his wife, Louisa, settled on the estate in 1759, they undertook an extensive program of renovations. Castletown was renowned for its informal hospitality, and in 1768–69 Healy chronicled the traditional recreations of hunting, shooting, and skating enjoyed by the Anglo-Irish aristocracy.

The centerpiece of the series is this work, which Paul Mellon purchased when the drawings were sold in 1983 and bequeathed to the Center. Made on two sheets of paper, this ambitious and refined drawing, with its friezelike composition and attenuated forms, has close affinities with the work of George Stubbs. Louisa Conolly’s brother, Charles Lennox, 3rd Duke of Richmond, was an important early patron of Stubbs, and Healy may have visited Richmond’s collection at Goodwood House. In any case, he probably would have known Stubbs’s engravings, which he might have seen in Louisa Conolly's print room at Castletown.

Gillian Forrester

\ John Baskett, Paul Mellon's Legacy: a Passion for British art: Masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, cat. no. 50, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

John Baskett, Paul Mellon's Legacy: a Passion for British Art: Masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, p. 265, no. 50, pl. 50, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

William Laffan, Ireland : crossroads of art and design, 1690-1840, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 2015, pp. 36-37, 149, 229, no. 56, color detail and fig. 4 (p/ 149), N6787 .I74 2015 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

William Laffan, Thomas Roberts, landscape and patronage in eighteenth-century Ireland. , Churchill House Press, Tralee, 2009, p. 157, fig. 118, NJ18.R544 L35 2009 + (YCBA)

John Mulcahy, Lost to Castletown, Irish Arts Review, vol. 29, no. 2, Summer (June - August) 2012, pp. 99, 101-03, fig. 1, Available on line : JStor Ireland Collection (ORBIS)

Brendan Rooney, Irish horse, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, p. 74, 76, SF284.173 R66 2020 (YCBA)

The Provost's House Stables, building & environs, Trinity College Dublin. , Associated Editions, Dublin, 2008, p. 48, fig. 21, NA6700 D8 P7 2008 (YCBA)

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