No Ordinary Family

Zoffany’s Portrait of the Fitzgeralds of Turlough, 1764

Nearly 250 years ago, a portrait of George Fitzgerald with his sons George and Charles, hung in Turlough Park House, Castlebar, the estate of the Fitzgerald family. The portrait of this infamous family has now returned to its original home and is on display here in the Museum.

The vibrant oil painting, which is on loan from the National Gallery of Ireland, is by the famous German painter, Johan Zoffany R.A. (1733-1810). Zoffany, who was active mainly in England and was very well known in his day, is regarded as the master of the conversation piece, showing his sitters contented and relaxed. This an important work because it is Zoffany’s only known Irish group.

George Robert, son of George and later known as the ‘Fighting Fitzgerald’, was famous for his brave and reckless horsemanship. A renowned duellist, he was involved in a number of disputes and family quarrels. He was found guilty and hanged for murder in Castlebar, Co. Mayo in 1786.

His younger brother Charles Lionel inherited the estate. This painting descended through their family until purchased privately in an auction in Christies of London in 1900. In 2007 the portrait was presented as a heritage gift to the National Gallery of Ireland.

A pair of duelling pistols is on display in the Landlord’s Library in Turlough Park House. These pistols are of a type that would have been used by George Robert Fitzgerald.

The exhibition will run until April 2013 and admission is free. Exhibition-related items are on sale in the Museum Shop.


Johan Zoffany, German, active in England, 1733-1810

Portrait of George Fitzgerald with his Sons George and Charles, c. 1764

Oil on canvas 98.5 x 123.5cm Photo © National Gallery of Ireland.

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