Matthew Pilkington

(1701—1774) satirist and art historian

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(1701–74) Irish poet turned art historian. Educated at Trinity College, Dublin, he was ordained in 1723. Jonathan Swift helped him to revise his Poems on Several Occasions (1730) and procured his appointment as chaplain to the lord mayor of London in 1732. In London Pilkington successfully passed off as Swift's one of his own satires, An Infallible Scheme to Pay the Public Debt of This Nation in Six Months, wrote a libellous biography of the mayor, and apparently turned government informer when arrested for his part in publishing Swift's Epistle to a Lady (1734). The notoriety surrounding his 1738 divorce from Laetitia Pilkington seems to have cut short his literary career. By the mid-1750s he had re-emerged as an authority on Old Master paintings. In 1770 he published The Gentleman's and Connoisseur's Dictionary of Painters which, periodically revised, expanded, and retitled, remained current for nearly a century.

From The Oxford Companion to English Literature in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.

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