Dr Eileen Black, a former fine art curator in the Ulster Museum, has published numerous articles on Irish art and catalogues on various areas of the museum's collection; also, catalogues of the fine art collections of the Belfast Harbour Commissioners, Queen's University and Down County Museum.
In 2006, she published Art in Belfast 1760-1888: Art Lovers or Philistines?, a major work based on her doctoral thesis. Now retired, she continues to explore the art world of Belfast in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a subject of endless fascination for her.
Window to an Age is intended as a companion to the author's book of 2006 - Art in Belfast 1760-1888: Art Lovers or Philistines? - which told the story of art in Belfast from its early beginnings to the opening in 1888 of the town's first rate-supported art space, a suite of galleries on the top floor of the Free Public Library (now Central Library) in Royal Avenue.
This new publication gives an account of artists' comings and goings in Belfast between 1760 and 1888 and details the contents of the various exhibitions held by exhibiting societies and art dealers, information which has been largely forgotten or lost through time.
The book also reveals lesser-known features of the local art world, such as the many panoramas which came to town, providing entertainment and education for the masses; also, the art to be seen at the conversaziones of societies like the Belfast Natural History and Philosophical Society and the various kinds of artistic training offered to gentlewomen by now-forgotten lady artists.
Overall, Window to an Age gives a bird's-eye view of the art world of the town during the period covered and provides a unique insight into aspects of Belfast's cultural life in former times.
The inclusion of an index of owners of art, of whom little was known, together with an index of portraits, should prove particularly useful to local and family historians.
List of illustrations
List of plates
Foreword by Brendan Rooney
Postscript: an art gallery and museum for Belfast
Index of artists, persons involved in the art world, art-related events and exhibition venues
Index of owners and collection
Index of portraits and portrait sculptures