Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/289

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Gilbert
Gilbert
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of selling no more of his pictures, with a view to presenting a collection of them to the nation. He made the intention public in April 1893, and the gift took effect in that year, when he divided a number of his pictures between the municipal galleries of London, Birmingham, Liverpool, and Manchester. The corporation of London acknowledged the gift by presenting Sir John Gilbert with the freedom of the city. A volume of collotype reproductions of the pictures presented to the Guildhall Gallery, with an introduction by Mr. A. G. Temple, F.S.A., was published in the same year. Gilbert also presented a collection of his sketch-books to the Royal Academy.

Almost the whole of Gilbert's uneventful and industrious life was passed at Blackheath, where he died, unmarried, at his residence in Vanbrugh Park on 5 Oct. 1897. He was buried in Lewisham cemetery.

Gilbert was before all things a draughtsman, and is likely to be remembered rather as an illustrator than as a painter. In water-colour his technique was largely determined by his practice in black-and-white. He would model his surfaces with the brush as if he were hatching with pen or pencil. Alike in water-colour and in oils he was a powerful colourist, with a special fondness for red; his shadows were often too black. Of the old masters he owed most to Rubens, something to Rembrandt; while in landscape he has been compared to Salvator Rosa and to Gaspar Poussin. In the English school he is most nearly allied to Cattermole, whom he surpasses, however, in vigour and rapidity of movement. While he led a reaction against the caricature of Cruikshank and the sentimental style of the annuals, he was wholly uninfluenced by the contemporary 'pre-Raphaelite' movement. He was never realistic, and it was not the art or literature of the middle ages, but their stirring life and picturesque costume, that inspired his robust and manly art. His subjects, whether suggested by poets or novelists, by history or by his own fanciful reconstruction of the past, were always romantic, but seldom theatrical or mannered.

[Roget's Hist, of the Old Water-colour Society, ii. 359-69; Times, 7 Oct. 1897; Athenæum, 9 Oct. 1897; Memoir by M. H. Spielniann in Magazine of Art, 1898, p. 53.]

C. D.

GILBERT, Sir JOHN THOMAS (1829–1898), Irish historian and antiquary, was born at 23 Jervis Street, Dublin, on 23 Jan. 1829. His father, John Gilbert (d. 1833), was an English protestant of Devonshire origin, who early in the century had established himself in Dublin in the Spanish wine trade, and for many years held the post of consul at Dublin for Portugal and Algarve; his mother Eleanor, daughter of Henry Costello of Dublin, was an Irish-woman and a Roman catholic. From his father Gilbert derived great powers of industry and accuracy; from his mother, who brought him up in the Roman catholic faith, he inherited the strong Irish feeling and religious devotion which marked him through life. His childhood was spent for the most part at Branackstown, co. Meath, where he acquired an abiding knowledge and love of nature; and his boyhood was divided between Bective College, Dublin, and Prior Park College, Bath.

Gilbert's antiquarian tastes manifested themselves early. In 1851, at the age of twenty-two, he contributed to the 'Irish Quarterly Review' an essay on the 'Historical Literature of Ireland.' But the first-fruits of this early enthusiasm appeared in a series of papers on 'The Streets of Dublin,' published in 1852-5 in the 'Irish Quarterly Review.' This work was expanded into his well-known 'History of the City of Dublin,' published in 1801, a work which at once took rank as the standard authority on the subject, and which won for him the Cunningham gold medal of the Royal Irish Academy in 1862.

In 1855 Gilbert became, in conjunction with James Henthorn Todd [q. v.], hon. secretary to the Irish Celtic and Archæological Society. In the work of this society he was associated with an eminent band of students of Irish antiquities, which included such men as Sir William Wilde [q. v.], Eugene O'Curry [q. v.], John O'Donovan, George Petrie [q. v], Charles Graves [q. v. Suppl.] (afterwards Bishop of Limerick), and Sir Thomas Larcom [q. v.], and 'to the exertions of the two secretaries it was mainly owing that that society was for many years able to continue its publication of various works of the utmost importance in the history of Ireland.'

In 1863 Gilbert published a series of papers, subsequently collected in his 'History, Position, and Treatment of the Public Records of Ireland, by an Irish Archivist,' in which he called attention to the defects in the treatment of Irish historical documents in the 'Calendars of Patent and Close Rolls of Chancery in Ireland,' published under the authority of the treasury. His attacks upon the competence of the editors led to a discussion in the House of Commons on 16 July 1863, in which the accuracy of the