An Irish harper on the continent: portrait of Cork merchant William Archdeacon with his family (c. 1750), from painting in private collection, Ghent.
William Archdeacon (1685–1759) had established a family business network by the 1730s which linked his native Cork with Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Dunkirk inFrance, Bruges in Belgium, and Cádiz in Spain. Living on the Continent, like many wealthy Irish émigrés he prided himself on his Irish identity, symbolising it here by an Irish harp (at a time when the traditional instrument was in terminal decline in his homeland).
This image has emerged to public view in a National Library of Ireland exhibition Strangers to Citizens: The Irish in Europe 1600–1800 which will be on display until late 2009 at 2–3 Kildare St, Dublin 2 (see www.nli.ie). The painting is reproduced in colour in a book of the same title which accompanies the exhibition – ISBN 978-0-907328-64-3 (pb.) and 65-0 (hb.).
(caption) Courtesy private owner of painting and National Library of Ireland, per Irish Traditional Music Archive
Published on 1 April 2009