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Robert West; Matthew William Peters

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Robert West; Matthew William Peters

by Matthew William Peters
charcoal, 7 November 1758
16 in. x 21 1/2 in. (406 mm x 546 mm)
Purchased, 1927
Primary Collection
NPG 2169

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This portraitback to top

In this ambitious drawing Matthew William Peters has shown himself having his portrait taken by his master, the Irish painter, Robert West, who excelled in chalk and crayon drawings. West set up an influential drawing school in Dublin where Peters trained before coming to London, probably in 1759, to study under Thomas Hudson. Peters made several trips to Italy and France, becoming the pupil of Pompeo Batoni in Rome, but eventually decided to give up his artistic career and entered the Church in 1781. Although he produced a range of portraits and genre scenes, he is best remembered for his mildly erotic pictures of women.

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Events of 1758back to top

Current affairs

Comet observed in previous centuries returns exactly at the time predicted by astronomer Edmond Halley and is subsequently known by his name.

Art and science

Liverpool-born artist George Stubbs sets up in London as a painter.
James Woodforde, an English country parson, begins a detailed diary of everyday life, which is later published as Diary of a Country Parson.


Seven Years' War: British General John Forbes captures the strategic French stronghold Fort Duquesne and renames it Pittsburgh after British Secretary of State, William Pitt the Elder. British troops capture Louisbourg, Nova Scotia.
Pope Clement XIII succeeds Pope Benedict XIV as the 248th pope.

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Dr Claudia Kinmonth MRIA MA(RCA)

20 August 2018, 10:15

This self portrait shows the artist as a teenager (probably age 15 or 16), portraying himself with his drawing master Mr Robert West, in the act of taking his portrait. The Figure Drawing School run by Robert West in the 1740's, was being taken over by The Dublin Society between 1746 and 1750, and by 1750 they had taken it over, and were employing Mr West. The Dublin Society Schools of Drawing then had departments for 'Landscape and Ornament', 'Architectural Drawing' etc., with various tutors, some students studied drawing then went on to become apprenticed into 'Statuary' (sculpture). The Dublin Society (after 1821 The Royal Dublin Society) judged the students and awarded prizes or 'premiums' as encouragement. Many Irish painters of landscape and portraits emerged through their school. They recognised art training as fundamental to good design, and many Irish designers began there too. They also supported students in other ways, ie to travel abroad, on tours to Italy etc., to further their careers. M.W. Peters was sent to Italy for further studies, he is recorded as a student in the school of Figure Drawing in 1755, '56 and '58, won a premium in 1756, and was sent to Italy in 1761. More information may be read about him in the Society's Ms Proceedings, in the RDS archive.

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