Sir Robert Ponsonby Staples, 12th Baronet, was an artist also remembered for his eccentricity. He was the third son of Sir Nathaniel Staples, 11th Baronet of Lissan House near Cookstown in Co. Tyrone. He became one of Ulster's best known artists.
Known as the "barefoot baronet", he refused to wear shoes as he believed that leather soles would block out natural electricity from the earth and thus impair the health. He would travel to Belfast solely to walk on the tramlines as he believed this extra boost of electricity would be especially beneficial.
His first picture was accepted by the Royal Academy when he was only 22 years old and he exhibited there throughout his life. His place in London society is reflected in his paintings, which include portraits of important politicians, actors, churchmen, artists and monarchy in England.
His most famous painting, The Ideal Cricket Match, now hanging in the Pavilion at Lord's Cricket Ground, shows an imaginary match founding the Ashes tournament between Australia and England. Other noted works include Cardinal Manning’s Last Reception (at the Archiepiscopal Palace of the Archbishop of Westminster), The Last Shot at Queen's Club (now in Worthing Museum & Art Gallery) and Gladstone Introducing the Home Rule Bill (now hanging in the House of Lords).
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