A Large 19thC Painted Plaster Portrait Library Bust of St. Patrick; Ex Milford House

Origin: Irish
Period: Late Victorian
Provenance: Milford house, Co. Carlow, Ireland
Date: c.1890-1900
Height: 26”
Width: 16”
Depth: 9” (all at extremities)
Base: 8” square

The large late Victorian plaster library bust depicting St. Patrick with a flowing beard, wearing ceremonial robes with celtic motifs, and a bejewelled mitre hat, the whole on a stepped socle square base, showing the original laurel green paint now beautifully worn with age, and surviving from the late Victorian period from the Milford house estate in Ireland, in beautifully decorative condition.

The condition of the bust is simply wonderfully decorative with the old laurel green paint having worn off in several areas and with the whole now of a beautiful sea green colour overall and with the piece not having any restoration or over-painting; it remains a joy. There are small sections of chipped loss, with one slightly larger chip to one edging, and pitting to various areas as one would expect but nothing of major distraction.

Built in the early 1800s, Milford House, Co Carlow, was home to the Alexander family, who made a huge impact on the industrial development of the Carlow area over the past 200 years. The family settled in Carlow in the 1780’s and the main source of income was milling.  A number of them followed careers in the British Army and there are artefacts passed down through generations and objects acquired through travel to exotic lands.. Milford Mill was Ireland’s largest and most technologically advanced, and the internationally recognised Milford Stud was founded in 1947. In 1891, Major John Alexander III – whose career as a British Army officer included the capture of the last king of the Zulus; he was also, allegedly, the first white man to enter Tibet, dressed as a monk – converted the mill to a hydro-electric power station, making Carlow famous as the first inland town in the UK to have electric street lighting.

Saint Patrick was a fifth-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. Known as the "Apostle of Ireland", he is the primary patron saint of Ireland, along with saints Brigit of Kildare and Columba. The dates of Patrick's life cannot be fixed with certainty, but there is broad agreement that he was active as a missionary in Ireland during the second half of the 5th century. Early medieval tradition credits him with being the first bishop of Armagh and Primate of Ireland, and they regard him as the founder of Christianity in Ireland, converting a society practicing a form of Celtic polytheism. He has been generally so regarded ever since, despite evidence of some earlier Christian presence in Ireland.

With a superb provenance and a punchy decorators size and look, this bust is a desirable country house piece.