A picture may paint a thousand words yet many masterpieces which enriched Irish country houses remain silent. Now David Hicks explores the often insular world behind some evocative portraits, artists and those who once called these houses home. While researching Irish Country Houses - A Chronicle of Change, David encountered beautiful portraits of former residents in aging mansions, with fascinating backgrounds. A portrait is never fully understood until put into context: the artist, the sitter, the time, place and circumstances of its creation. Granted access to galleries, private art collections and some of Ireland's great country houses, he collected wonderful stories and photographs. Behind the faces are tales of happiness and misfortune, of royalty, politicians, literary and artistic figures, of scandals and hunt balls. The houses, such as Antrim Castle, Moore Abbey, Lissadell and Avondale, were built to impress. Many owners were patrons of the arts and commissioned the best artists such as William Orpen, Walter Osborne and Sarah Purser to capture their own or a family member's likeness. Some portraits are from the early twentieth century when Ireland was experiencing a cultural renaissance and the Irish country house was entering a time of stagnation and decay. Now these portraits capture a way of life that no longer exists and each chapter paints a picture of a bygone age.