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“A world that may save the tears of some future Alexander.”

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John Boyle, 5th Earl of Cork and Orrery undertook a Grand Tour of Europe in the mid 1750s. On the 23rd January 1755 he wrote from Florence;
“Arts and sciences weep at the extinction of the house of Medici. The Princes of that house were many of them learned; all of them encourages of learning. ‘Tuscany was to Italy’ says monsieur de Voltaire ‘what Athens was to Greece’. What Greece is, Tuscany possibly may be, perhaps Italy perhaps Europe. The ball of empire may hereafter roll westward, and may stop in America, a world, unknown when Greece was in its meridian glory; a world, that may save the tears of some future Alexander.”

Interesting thoughts.

Cork’s letters were published in 1774; Letters from Italy, in the years 1754 and 1755 by the late right honourable John Earl of Cork and Orrery. This extract is from letter XII.

Portrait attributed to Isaac Seeman, National Portrait Gallery, London

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John Boyle, 5th Earl of Cork and Orrery undertook a Grand Tour of Europe in the mid 1750s. On the 23rd January 1755 he wrote from Florence;
“Arts and sciences weep at the extinction of the house of Medici. The Princes of that house were many of them learned; all of them encourages of learning. ‘Tuscany was to Italy’ says monsieur de Voltaire ‘what Athens was to Greece’. What Greece is, Tuscany possibly may be, perhaps Italy perhaps Europe. The ball of empire may hereafter roll westward, and may stop in America, a world, unknown when Greece was in its meridian glory; a world, that may save the tears of some future Alexander.”

Interesting thoughts.

Cork’s letters were published in 1774; Letters from Italy, in the years 1754 and 1755 by the late right honourable John Earl of Cork and Orrery. This extract is from letter XII.

Portrait attributed to Isaac Seeman, National Portrait Gallery, London

image

John Boyle, 5th Earl of Cork and Orrery undertook a Grand Tour of Europe in the mid 1750s. On the 23rd January 1755 he wrote from Florence;
“Arts and sciences weep at the extinction of the house of Medici. The Princes of that house were many of them learned; all of them encourages of learning. ‘Tuscany was to Italy’ says monsieur de Voltaire ‘what Athens was to Greece’. What Greece is, Tuscany possibly may be, perhaps Italy perhaps Europe. The ball of empire may hereafter roll westward, and may stop in America, a world, unknown when Greece was in its meridian glory; a world, that may save the tears of some future Alexander.”

Interesting thoughts.

Cork’s letters were published in 1774; Letters from Italy, in the years 1754 and 1755 by the late right honourable John Earl of Cork and Orrery. This extract is from letter XII.

Portrait attributed to Isaac Seeman, National Portrait Gallery, London

Know Your Glazing

When reading a building facade, our eyes play across the surfaces and our mind analyses what we see in an attempt to identify balance and delight.  Proportional symmetry in fenestration is a crucial part of how our subconscious mind forms an aesthetic judgement and therefore produces an aesthetic emotion.  Although providing ample tutelage on how to balance window openings across a facade, a striking detail often overlooked in eighteenth-century pattern books is fenestration glazing, and glazing furniture.  This is curious when we consider that the thickness of a glazing bar for instance is integral to a facade appearing dense and imposing or weightless and inviting.  It was hardly the case that glazing was not considered of visual importance by the early eighteenth-century architect.  Was its manufacture so controlled as to not necessitate illustrating?  The method of illustrating windows on facades changed over the course of the century, and publications in the latter half of the eighteenth century include glazing bars on their buildings.  By the early nineteenth century the incorporation of fenestration into illustrated facades appears commonplace.

Abraham Swan (A Collection of Designs in Architecture, 1757) includes glazing bars in his designs for interiors but not exteriors.  Matthew Brettingham in his treatise on Holkham Hall (The Plans, Elevations, and Sections of Holkham Hall, 1773) does likewise.  Batty Langley’s The Builder’s Jewel, 1741, exhibits many designs for window architraves and pediments but does not include any sashes or glazing bars.  Colen Campbell’s Vitruvius Britannicus (in 3 vols., 1715, 1717, 1725) does not illustrate glazing bars on external facades, but George Richardson’s New Vitruvius Britannicus (in 2 vols., 1802, 1808) does.

Abraham Swan

Abraham Swan (1757) A Collection of Designs in Architecture, vol.2.

 BrettinghamMatthew Brettingham (1773) The Plans, Elevations, and Sections of Holkham Hall.

 

Richardson

Robert and James Adam, New Assembly Room, Glasgow; from George Richardson (1802) New Vitruvius Britannicus, vol. 1.

Hawksmoor, et. al. (The Builders’ Dictionary, 1734) informed by a Mr. Leybourn, note several types of glass available, and report that ‘an English glass-maker went over to France on purpose to learn the French way of making glass; which he having attained to, came over again into England, and set up making of Crown Glass, and in the performance, outstripped the French his teachers’.  The dictionary includes a price for crown glass; between £0.0s.6d and £0.0s.8d per square foot, and a price for ‘looking glass’ at a much higher rate of around £0.4s.0d per square foot.  Interestingly, it also notes a type called ‘Jealous Glass’ costing around £0.0s.18d per square foot, which obscures visibility and is ‘commonly used in and about London, to put into the lower lights of sash-windows …to hinder people who pass by from seeing what is done in the room’.

Steevens Drawing

Steevens Image

The view of the front facade of Dr. Steeven’s Hospital, Dublin as illustrated above (Robert Pool and John Cash, Views of the most remarkable Public Buildings, Monuments and other Edifices in the City of Dublin, 1780) gives an altogether different impression to the photograph.

Early eighteenth-century glazing is composed of a thick glazing bar and a small pane of glass.  Few buildings have retained their early fenestration but included in their number is Dr. Steevens’ Hospital, Dublin (designed by Thomas Burgh, c. 1717) where the heaviness of the glazing bars creates a sense of enclosed fortitude in the facade.  Later in the century this style was replaced by the more delicate composition of light thin glazing bars, which were sometimes made of metal and veneered with timber.

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Early eighteenth-century window on basement, Castletown House, Co. Kildare

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The windows at Castletown House above basement level were refitted with sashes composed of a thinner glazing bar in the later eighteenth-century.

There were two distinct methods for making glass in the eighteenth century.  The first, crown or spun glass, is made by spinning molten glass into a large disc shape, forming an undulating effect radiating from its centre.  This disc was then cut into panes with the price diminishing as the pane neared the centre of the disc.  The bulls-eye in the centre of the disc was then considered the cheapest of the panes, but is now in fact much sought after as a rare novelty.

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An example of Crown glass

The second method, for making cylinder glass or ‘looking glass’, necessitated the forming of a cylindrical shape and then elongating the cylinder by swinging the form into a deep trench.  Whilst molten, this cylinder was cut and flattened out.  This glass is easily identified due to the presence of bubbles in the composition which were circular in the cylinder but became elongated ovals when the cylinder was flattened out.  This type of glass was more expensive than crown glass due to the viewing clarity it afforded the end user.

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Cylinder glass with two distinct oval inclusions.

Varying colours clearly evident in eighteenth-century glass is due to the irregular ratios in the composition of materials used in its manufacture, as illustrated in the basement window above.  However, Hawksmoor, et. al. attribute the varying colours to the areas in which they were manufactured; Radcliff glass for instance was a sky blue colour, Lambeth Crown glass a green colour, and German glass either a green or white colour.

It is regrettable that much historic glass has been removed from many historic properties in favour of modern materials whose lifespan comes nowhere close to that of what it replaced.

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Posted on 25-05-16

Citation;  McKenna, M. (2016) Know Your Glazing.  Available at www.georgianireland.com (Accessed dd/mm/yyyy)

 

Emsworth, Co. Dublin

 

 

Back to ContentsEmsworth

Emsworth House was designed by James Gandon for James Woodmason in 1794.  Woodmason was an Irish entrepreneur involved in printing and stationary.   In June 1792 he announced that he was opening a gallery in Exchequer Street, Dublin dedicated to large scale paintings; the Shakespeare Gallery was launched in May 1793.  His model was the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery in London, founded by John Boydell in 1786.  Woodmason’s plan was to support the genre of History painting in Ireland by commissioning and selling paintings and prints, and he used the popularity of prints depicting scenes from Shakespeare’s plays to fund the gallery’s less fruitful ventures.  Paintings such as Parolles Ambushed and Blindfolded, commissioned from Francis Wheatley in 1792, were exhibited in the Dublin gallery.  This painting depicts a scene from Shakespear’s All’s Well that Ends Well, and appeared alongside two other paintings by the same artist.

Picture1

His Dublin gallery was not successful however as the Irish economy was experiencing a turbulent period, and in January 1794 he opened The New Shakespeare Gallery in Leadenhall Street, London.  Woodmason’s move to London proved to be a prosperous decision as he was appointed official stationary supplier to the Commissioners of the Revenue in the same year.  Perhaps the reasons behind the relocation of his firm from Dublin to London was in anticipation of this contract.  The print below depicts Prospero, Miranda, and Caliban from act one scene two of Shakespeare’s Tempest and was published by Woodmason in London in 1794.  It was engraved by William Bromley after Rev. Matthew William Peters.

Shakespeare Print

Woodmason’s new appointment was probably the motive behind commissioning Gandon to design the villa for him in North Dublin.  A drawing of the house signed ‘J.G. March 94’ is part of the National Library collection and is inscribed ‘Erected for J. Woodmason Esqr. Stemworth’.  It is the only villa attributed to Gandon that has survived and it is regrettable that few historic interiors have been preserved.  In massing, it follows Gandon’s signature tripartite rhythm with the centre crowned by a pediment and flanked by low pavilions.  The ground floor windows are set into blind arches that mimic the fanlight over the front door, and the door surround is of the Doric order.  The house and seventeen acres were sold in 2014.

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Posted on 08-12-15

Citation;  McKenna, M. (2015) Emsworht, Co. Dublin.  Available at www.georgianireland.com (Accessed dd/mm/yyyy)

Andrea Palladio Born

 

Back to ContentsPalladio

Andrea Palladio was born Andrea di Piero in Venice in 1508.  There is some confusion about the exact date with some sources claiming November 8 and others November 30.  At the age of thirteen, he was apprenticed to the workshop of the architect and stone mason Bartolomeo Cavazza da Sossano in Padua, and by the 1530s he was working for himself.  A meeting with Count Giangiorgio Trissino, the respected Humanist, was to have a profound impact on his later career, and it was Trissino who gave Andrea the name Palladio, after Pallas Athena, during their first visit to Rome in the summer of 1541.  Palladio spent a further period of time in Rome in 1545-6.  Finding contemporary surveys of classical Roman architecture unsatisfactory, he studied the ancient remains diligently and in 1554 published L’Antichita di Roma.  From then until the end of his life he worked for the highest patrons in Venice and Vicenza, adopting motifs such as the Greek cross into secular architectural design.  His seminal publication, I Quattro Libri dell’Architettura, 1571, instructed readers on a more proportionately appropriate use of the classical Orders.  It was disseminated throughout Europe and its theories were brought to Britain by Inigo Jones in the seventeenth-century.

Pantheon

Palladio is possibly best remembered for the style of architecture that assumed his name in the eighteenth-century.  The first version of his publication in English appeared in 1715 and was translated by the Italian architect Giacomo Leoni, working under Lord Burlington’s patronage.  Edward Lovett Pearce used an earlier 1601 version  during his Grand Tour in the 1720s and annotated it with his own observations.  He drew inspiration directly from Palladio in his design for the House of Lords in the Dublin House of Parliament and for Bellamont Forest, Ireland’s first country villa, designed for the Cootes of Cootehill in the late 1720s.  Palladio’s block-and-wings motif was used throughout the eighteenth-century in country mansions such as Castletown House, Co. Kildare and Russborough House, Co. Wicklow.

Bellamont

Bellamont Forest, Co. Cavan

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Posted on 30-11-15

Citation;  McKenna, M. (2015) Andrea Palladio Born.  Available at www.georgianireland.com (Accessed dd/mm/yyyy)

Great Fire of London

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GF London

GF London_Dublin

The Great Fire of London began on this day in 1666. It was to have a major impact on the townscapes of in Britain and Ireland. The Building Act of 1667 stated all external and party walls should constructed of brick. the 1707 Act banned the employment of timber eaves cornices and instead suggested a blind parapet be used which would be at least eighteen inches high to better protect the roof from fire. And the 1709 Act stated the windows of a town house should be set back four inches from the facade. The application of these Acts can be clearly seen in buildings such as No.9 Henrietta St, Dublin, attributed to Edward Lovett Pearce.

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Posted on 02-09-15

Citation;  McKenna, M. (2015) Great Fire of London.  Available at www.georgianireland.com (Accessed dd/mm/yyyy)

Alessandro Galilei Birthday

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Alessandro Galilei

Alessandro Galilei was born on this day in 1691. An Italian trained architect, he arrived in London in 1714 at the bequest of Robert Molesworth and was invited to Ireland by Molesworth in 1718, bidding unsuccessfully for the design of St Werburghs Church in Dublin and later making designs for William Conolly at Castletown. Galilei was unsuccessful in Ireland and returned to Italy in 1719 where his most notable work is the design the front facade of St. John Lateran for Pope Clement XII, completed 1735.

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Posted on 25-08-15

Citation;  McKenna, M. (2015) Alessandro Galilei Birthday.  Available at www.georgianireland.com (Accessed dd/mm/yyyy)

Borris House, Co. Carlow

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When discussing the inspiration for and influences on architectural design in Georgian Ireland, it is seldom noted that the genealogy of a particular family has a great bearing on the scheme they chose to construct.  This does however have some exceptions, Borris House, Co. Carlow being among their number.  It received an extensive remodelling in the early decades of the nineteenth-century in the manner of the Tudor Gothic.  These were overseen by the then owner Thomas Kavanagh whose family had resided on the estate since the fifteenth-century.  The house was constructed around 1731 and later enclosed in its Gothic envelope to the designs of father and son Richard and William Vitruvius Morrison, and was one of the earliest uses of Tudor Gothic detailing in Ireland in the nineteenth-century.  Some of the beautiful interiors mentioned in Neale’s account are attributed to George Stapleton, son of the notable stuccodore Michael Stapleton.

From; J.P. Neale, Views of the seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, vol.II, London, 1823

“The situation of Borris is undoubtedly one of the most noble in the Eastern part of the Kingdom of Ireland.  The grounds are highly wooded with full grown timber, and rise boldly from the banks of a
mountain torrent, which intersects the demesne, and falls into the Barrow, a very considerable navigable river, which forms one boundary to the Grounds.  The Mansion stands in the best point for command of prospect, overlooking a rich tract of well wooded country, terminated by a fine range of mountains, and was erected about seventy years ago; but in its original form, the building was without any pretensions to architectural beauty, and in its interior arrangements not sufficiently commodious.  It has, however, undergone within the last seven years, a most material improvement, and may certainly be ranked now among the principal of the residences of the Gentry of this kingdom.

The style of Architecture adopted, is that of the period of Henry the Eighth, of which period, though so many beautiful examples are extant in England, yet, in this country, Borris may be considered as unique: this particular style was selected, as being appropriate to the antiquity of the Family of the possessor; and, also, from its very picturesque character, harmonizing so much better with the surrounding scenery than a Mansion of Grecian architecture possibly could.

The interior is so arranged now, as to render it not only complete in its accommodation, but grand in its ornaments and decorations, particularly the Saloon, the principal apartment, the ceiling of which is highly adorned, and supported by groins of a slight curve resting on pillars of Scagliola: in the Spandrils of the arches are Shields supported by eagles.  The whole has an appropriate and happy effect, doing much credit to the taste and ability of Messrs. Morrison, sen. and jun., under whose direction, and from whose designs, the improvements in the Mansion were produced.

The Family of Kavanagh, (or rather Mac Murchad, for Kavanagh is but a surname adopted by one of the progenitors of the House), is one of the most ancient and most illustrious in Ireland ; and can trace their descent in a right line from Dermod Mac Murchad, king of Leinster, whose fatal passion for Devorlagh, wife of Ruarc, king of Breffany, in the reign of Henry II. was the immediate cause of the subjection of this kingdom to the English power.  Of the same Family was Art. Mac Murchad, the celebrated and successful adversary of King Richard II. in his Irish wars, and the ultimate cause of his deposition: vide Leland’s History of Ireland, Vol. I. Book 2nd, Chap. 5. This Mac Murchad was one
of the four kings of Ireland, who, with O’Connor, O’Neale, and O’Brien, were offered the honour of Knighthood by King Richard II., and who expressed their surprise that he should consider the offer of such an honour any accession to their dignity, they having been Knighted according to the laws of their Country, at seven years old.  Several interesting anecdotes of this Family are interspersed in the Histories of Ireland.”

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Posted on 09-08-15

Citation;  McKenna, M. (2015) Borris House, Co. Carlow.  Available at www.georgianireland.com (Accessed dd/mm/yyyy)

Sir Joshua Reynolds’ Birthday

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Sarah Bunbury

Sir Joshua Reynolds born on this day in 1723. In this portrait Lady Sarah Bunbury (nee Lennox) is depicted sacrificing to the Three Graces. Lady Sarah lived her later life in Celbridge House (now Oakley Park) beside Emily at Carton House and Louisa at Castletown. An engraving after this image is in the Print Room at Castletown.

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Posted on 16-07-15

Citation;  McKenna, M. (2015) Sir Joshua Reynolds’ Birthday.  Available at www.georgianireland.com (Accessed dd/mm/yyyy)

 

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