attributed to John Butts

Poachers: View in the Dargle


Not on display

Attributed to John Butts c.1728–1764
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 686 × 899 mm
Purchased 1973

Display caption

John Butts was a little-known Irish painter whose variety in style can perhaps be explained by his reputed activities as a forger of Flemish landscapes. The enclosed and airless composition of this scene is reminiscent of the few known works by Butts. It shows a view in the Dargle valley in County Wicklow, about ten miles from Dublin. With its fast flowing river and steep mountainous gorge, the Dargle is a place of dramatic natural beauty. The two poachers, hiding behind the rocks, appear to be catching eels. The shot from the gamekeeper's gun, visible in the centre of the composition, adds to the tense mood of the awe-inspiring landscape.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

George Barret Senior 1728-64

T01815 Poachers: View in the Dargle circa 1760

Not inscribed.
Canvas, 26¿ x 34¿ (66.4 x 87.3).
Purchased from P. & D. Colnaghi & Co. Ltd #1973.
Coll: Colnaghi.
Exh: English…Paintings, Colnaghi’s, November–December 1973 (68, repr. pl. 24).

Before leaving for England in 1762, Barret painted much in the neighbourhood of Powerscourt, Co. Wicklow, particularly on the Dargle river. On his arrival in England he brought with him two landscapes, ‘View of the Waterfall at Powers-court’ and ‘View in the Dargle’ which he exhibited, with two others, at the Society of Artists in 1764 (3 and 4). An identification of the latter with the Tate painting is tempting, but difficult to prove.

The composition and figures are typical of Barret, although the mechanical treatment of the foliage in some parts is not entirely characteristic and could indicate a fairly early date for the work, or studio assistance.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1972–1974, London 1975.

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