Belan House, County Kildare

Accession Number

Belan House, County Kildare

William Ashford

Object Creation Date
circa 1780

Medium & Support
oil on canvas

31 1/8 in. ( 79 cm )

Credit Line
Gift of Booth Newspapers, Inc. in memory of George Gough Booth and Ralph Harmon Booth

Label copy
March 28 2009
Belan House was one of several estates in Ireland owned by the first Earl of Aldborough, a member of the Irish peerage who had been born a commoner and was not elevated to his earldom until 1777, around the time of this painting. Members of the Irish aristocracy, often suffering under the remoteness of their situation from the seat of British power in London, often commissioned paintings such as this as essentially portraits of their homes and, by extension, of themselves, underscoring their status and wealth. Seen obliquely through an opening with a wood-fringed lake, Belan House, with its dovecote and stables, is silhouetted against the sky, the painting’s golden tonalities creating a gracious and ennobling setting for the figures—presumably the Earl and guests.
Although born in Britain, William Ashford’s career was built upon his landscapes and views of houses in Ireland. He showed for some years at the Royal Academy, but he returned to Ireland to continue depicting the well-ordered estates of the Irish countryside.

Subject matter
William Ashford became one of the best-known painters in late-18th century Ireland was born in Birmingham, England. His country house landscapes have a distinctly English mood and show prosperous estates that are well kept and reflect a harmony established beween man and nature. This building, Belan House, was built in 1745 and was the seat of the Earl of Aldborough. The composition was engraved by Argus and was published in Richardson's "Long Forgotten Days".

Physical Description
Painting shows a large country estate house. Situated in the middle distance, the house angles into space. At the near end is a dovecotte and at the furthest point is an arcade attaching the main house to another building that is obscured by trees. The foreground is framed by trees on either side, the lefthand tree is partially dead. At center in the foreground is an elegant party in a boat on a small lake. This group consists of two women and a man, hand outstretched indicating the scene of the house in the distance. In addition, two men in vests are also part of the group in the boat, one of whom is seated, the other is propelling the boat with an oar. Swans, with wings extended behind them, also grace the surface of the water.

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area

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4 Related Resources

(Part of: Land and People)
Landscape and Nature, Comparative and Historical
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)

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