Beranger, Gabriel (d. 1817), artist, was born c.1729 in Amsterdam of French huguenot origin. His parents and education are unknown, but he apparently came to Ireland in 1750 and stayed there until his death. He kept a print shop and artist's warehouse at 5 South George's St., Dublin, from 1766 until at least 1779; he was also assistant ledger-keeper in the government exchequer office (1783–9). He executed watercolours in and around Dublin (1763–81), but he is also known to have ranged further afield: to Wicklow (1773); Navan (1775); Connacht and Ulster – accompanied by Bigari – and Glendalough (1779); Wicklow and Wexford, accompanied by John James Barralet (qv) (1780), where he gathered linguistic information on the native ‘yola’ language, published later by Charles Vallancey (qv); Dundalk (1781); and, finally, Moira, Co. Down (1799). He was among the main artists employed c.1779–83 by William Burton (qv), later Baron Conyngham, president of the Hibernian Antiquarian Society, to collect illustrations of Irish antiquities for subsequent engraving in a planned series of volumes, which the Society never published. Beranger married first his cousin Louise (d. 1782) and second Elizabeth Mestayer of France, sister of a colonel in India. There were no children. He died in Dublin 18 February 1817.
His name sank into oblivion until Sir William Wilde (qv) championed his cause in the 1870s. Wilde's biography was posthumously completed by his widow ‘Speranza’ (qv) and published as a monograph (1880). It includes extensive quotation from Beranger's manuscript journals (1773–81), since lost, and thus remains the main source of biographical details. Wilde never met Beranger but described him as ‘spare in person, of middle height’, with well-cut brow, bushy eyebrows, and ‘a clear, observant, square-ended nose, that sniffed humbug and took in fun’. Certainly a man with a sense of humour, much welcomed wherever he went, Beranger was a competent watercolourist, not at his best in landscape yet very good on buildings of antiquity (frequently portraying himself in the foreground, seen from behind); he also produced strongly-coloured drawings of flowers and birds, which are, sadly, no longer identifiable.
Very few of Beranger's drawings were engraved, though some appeared anonymously in Collectanea de rebus Hibernicis. Original watercolour drawings are in two large volumes (NLI, MS 1958, RIA, MS 3.C.30) and two postcard-size albums, ‘Rambles through the county of Dublin and some others’ (RIA, MS 3.C.31–2), as well as individual drawings in the NLI, RIA, UCD Library, Ulster Museum, and many private collections. Two further small-sized albums are known to have existed (one owned and lost by a Mr Clarke). The large quarto 118-page MS with descriptions of Beranger's 1773–81 tours, once owned by Wilde, cannot be found, but NLI MSS 4162 and 5628 preserve notes on Beranger's ‘Tour thro’ Connacht in 1779’ and ‘Tour thro’ Wicklow and Wexford in 1780’. NLI MS 1415 contains some original letters.