Henry de Massue, Earl of Galway: Exploring Perspective with collections

Do you ever feel like you're being watched by paintings?

Don’t worry, you aren’t actually imagining things. The reason for this sensation is actually rooted in science. Due to the fact that perspectives, shadows and light are fixed in the painting, and therefore don’t change as you move around, your brain will try to interpret the image as though it was real thereby creating an optical illusion which msuch that the eyes of the subject seem to follow the viewer around.

In 1692 the Huguenot Henri de Ruvigny was appointed Commander in Chief in Ireland, and Lord Galway the following year. From then until the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697 he served William III in his Continental wars against Louis XIV. Between 1697 and 1701 he was in virtual sole charge of the government of Ireland. It was he who, in 1697, sent Louis Crommelin, a ‘Frenchman very skilled in linen manufacture’ on a tour of the country to report on proposals to promote the development of the industry. Later he recommended Crommelin at court in London. Galway facilitated the Huguenot settlement in Lisburn and ensured it received its first payments. This portrait shows Galway in his later years and may have been painted when he returned to Ireland as Lord Justice in 1714–1715.

His portrait is on currently on display in the Museum’s Assembly Room.

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