James Malton, English, 1761-1803
Title: The Custom House, Dublin
Date: 1793
Medium: Ink and watercolour on paper
53 x 76.5 cm
Signed: lower left: James Malton del. 1793
Credit Line: Purchased, 1914
Object Number: NGI.2705
DescriptionThe Custom House (1781-91) by neoclassical architect, James Gandon, is now regarded as an iconic building, yet was controversial when ships could sail to a more central one on Essex Quay. The facade of Portland stone was restored from 1986-88, reviving the crispness and brilliance shown in Malton's view. Two of the thirteen river god heads on the ground floor and royal arms of Ireland on the balustrade by Edward Smyth stand out and 'although its contiguity to the river is a defect, as far as beauty is concerned' (An Historical Guide to the City of Dublin, 1821) it was practical and must have flotaed like a Venetain palace above the narrower Gerogian quay. Malton intended this as an exhibition watercolour and had published his better-known aquatint in 1792.