Thursday September 21, 20:00 P.M.
The Architectural History and Restoration of Abbey Leix with William Laffan
Abbey Leix, originally site of a Cistercian monastery founded in the twelfth century, is one of the great Irish country houses. Over the last few decades it has been restored by Sir David Davies, President of the Irish Georgian Society, making it an appropriate subject for this annual lecture named for his predecessor in this role. The talk, by William Laffan, explores the architectural history of the house built by the de Vesci family in the 1770s, using drawing by the various architects who have played a role in its construction, notably James Wyatt, and also examines the landscape of one of the most intact demesnes in Ireland, home to the oldest oak tree in Ireland. It was through the combined scholarship of the Knight of Glin and John Harris that Abbey Leix was correctly identified as the house as the work of Wyatt – it had erroneously been attributed to Robert Adam – and the lecture acknowledge the seminal, and continuing, role that the Knight has played in the study of Irish art and architecture.
William Laffan is a curator and art dealer who has published extensively across a wide variety of cultural topics. The Cries of Dublin (2003) was selected as a book of the year by Roy Foster in the Times Literary Supplement; as was Miscelanea Structura Curiosa (2005) in The Irish Times by Frank Callanan (‘a delight;). Thomas Roberts, Landscape and Patronage in Eighteenth-Century Ireland (2009, written with Brendan Rooney) was described by Toby Barnard in Apollo as ‘a landmark in writing on Irish painting’. In 2014 he co-authored Russborough: A Great Irish House, Its Families and Collectors and the following year was historical advisor to the landmark exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, Ireland, Crossroads of Art and Design, 1690-1840. He is currently researching a monograph on Nathaniel Hone (1718-84).
Copies of the new book on Abbeyleix (Abbey Leix: An Irish Home and Its Demesne by William Laffan)will be available to purchase at the lecture.
The Georgian House, No. 2 Pery Square, Limerick, at 8pm. €10 entry.
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