The inspiration for Dion Boucicault's first Irish subject, The Colleen Bawn, in a set of pictur esque views of Ireland after the artist W. H. Bartlett is well documented, and Bartlett's iconography of wild scenery, moonlight, round towers, and ruined abbeys features strongly throughout the Irish plays. Although Bartlett's compositions were widely known in the nineteenth century, there has been little consideration of how they may have informed the audience's understanding of the plays. Rather, they are regarded as a set of clichéd, stereotyped images, which the playwright subverted through a process of ironic distancing and repurposing. In this article Patricia Smyth argues that, on the contrary, Boucicault made use of the mythical and supernatural associations of picturesque Ireland in order to convey a particular narrative of Irish history. Patricia Smyth is a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Warwick. She has published articles and book chapters on French and British nineteenth-century art, visual culture and theatre. She is co-editor of Nineteenth-Century Theatre and Film, co-edited with Jim Davis a special issue dedicated to theatrical iconography (2012), and is currently completing a book on Paul Delaroche and theatre.