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Creator:
Robert Healy, 1743–1771, British
Title:

Tom Conolly of Castletown Hunting with His Friends

Date:
1769
Medium:
Pastel, chalk, and white gouache on moderately thick, moderately textured, cream laid paper
Dimensions:
20 1/4 × 53 1/2 inches (51.4 × 135.9 cm) and 26 1/16 × 59 1/8 × 3 3/16 inches (66.2 × 150.2 × 8.1 cm)
Inscription(s)/Marks/Lettering:

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:
B2001.2.880
Classification:
Drawings & Watercolors
Collection:
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
dogs (animals) | horses (animals) | hunting | portrait | sporting art
Associated Places:
Castletown
Associated People:
Conolly, Thomas (1738–1803), politician
Access:
View by request in the Study Room [Request]
Note: The Study Room is open by appointment. Please visit the Study Room page on our website for more details.
Link:
https://collections.britishart.yale.edu/catalog/tms:46161
Export:
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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)



The son of a successful architect and decorator, Robert Healy studied at the Dublin Society's Drawing Schools under the pastellist Robert West. The Schools' curriculum in the late eighteenth century did no include oil painting, and, like his fellow-student Hugh Douglas Hamilton (see cat. 11), Healy specialized in pastel and chalk drawings. Healey's promising career was cut short when he died at twenty-eight, and the few works by him known to have survived are distinctive drawings in grisaille, that is, a subtle blend of monochrome and color pigments. Healy may have been influenced by the Irish artist Thomas Frye's monochrome chalk portrait heads, but his accomplished drawings go beyond Frye's in terms of finish and sophistication. The pseudonymous Dublin critic Anthony Pasquin observed that they were "proverbial for their exquisite softness: - they look like fine proof prints of the most capital mezzotinto engravings."
In his memoirs the actor John O'Keeffe recalled that his friend Healy "excelled at drawings in chalks, portraits, etc., but his chief forte was horses which he delineated so admirable that he got plenty of employment from those who had hunters, mares, or Ladies palfreys." The only known evidence of Healy's work in the genre, however, is a remarkable series of drawings made for the Connolys of Castletown in the late 1760s. Castletown in Count y 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 1768-9 Healy chronicled the traditional recreations of hunting, shooting, and skating enjoyed by the Conollys. The centerpiece of the group is cat. 92, an ambitious frieze like drawing with close affinities with the work of George Stubbs.

Gillian Forrester

Wilcox, Forrester, O'Neil, Sloan. The Line of Beauty: British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century. Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2001. pg. 111 cat. no. 92, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Ireland - Art on a World Stage 1690-1840 (The Art Institute of Chicago, 2015-03-17 - 2015-06-07) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

An American's Passion for British Art - Paul Mellon's Legacy (Royal Academy of Arts, 2007-10-20 - 2008-01-27) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Paul Mellon's Legacy : A Passion for British Art (Yale Center for British Art, 2007-04-18 - 2007-07-29) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

An American's Passion for British Art - Paul Mellon's Legacy (Yale Center for British Art, 2007-04-18 - 2007-07-29) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

The Line of Beauty : British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century (Yale Center for British Art, 2001-05-19 - 2001-08-05) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

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) [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) [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) [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) [ORBIS]

Paul Mellon's Legacy, a passion for British art. [large print labels] , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, v. 2, no. 50, N5220 M552 +P381 2007, Mellon Shelf (YCBA) [YCBA]

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

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


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