Privilege & Poverty: The Life and Times of Irish Painter and Naturalist Alexander Williams RHA (1846-1930); Gordon T. Ledbetter

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Alexander Williams was the first artist to open the West of Ireland, particularly Achill Island, to a wide audience. His extensive collection of memoirs and papers, preserved and never made public, form unique records from Victorian Ireland. His life was extraordinarily wide ranging. Primarily a landscape painter, his studies of old Dublin buildings and streetscapes are of particular interest. But he was also an apprentice hatter, a taxidermist and a professional singer, and with the help of Achill Islanders, he built a house and created a garden on Achill, now open to the public.

This absorbing biography gives unique glimpses of life in Dublin as seen by a painter favoured by the Lord Lieutenant and the 'castle set'. The contrast between the artist's life and that of the islanders on impoverished Achill is stark. Williams exhibited at the RHA annually for 61 years, a unique record, and his exhibitions and recitals were social events attended by well-known names such as Bram Stoker, W. B. Yeats, Percy French and William Orpen.

Illustrated with a wide selection of his work, this biography illuminates the diversity of his life and times with material found nowhere else.

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