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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
NPG 2169

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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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