William Ashford, English, 1746-1824
Title: A View of Dublin from Chapelizod
Date: 1795-1798
Medium: Oil on canvas
113.5 x 184.5 cm
Credit Line: Purchased, 1976 (Shaw Fund)
Object Number: NGI.4138
DescriptionWilliam Ashford’s view of Dublin from the Phoenix Park is one of two such works commissioned by Earl Camden, Viceroy of Ireland from 1759 to 1798. The vantage point, carefully chosen to provide a broad panorama of the city, is a hill overlooking the man-made weir at Islandbridge. A solitary deer in a clearing in the left foreground marks the location as a deer park, but also, with its classical associations, roots the picture in the Claudean tradition of landscape painting. Clearly seen between the trees is the magazine fort, built earlier in the eighteenth century, from which horse-drawn gun carriages proceed down a dirt road to the Chapelizod gate. Gunpowder and munitions were distributed from the fort to barracks throughout Dublin. Near the centre of the composition is the elegant elliptical arch of Island (or Sarah) Bridge, built across the Liffey as recently as 1792. To the right are the village of Kilmainham and the distinctive roofline of the Royal Hospital (now the Irish Museum of Modern Art). Punctuating the cityscape beyond are the spires of many of Dublin’s principal ecclesiastical buildings, including the cathedrals of St Patrick and Christ Church, and the dome of the soon-to-be-completed Four Courts. Having come to Dublin in his youth to take up a post in the ordnance office, Ashford went on to become one of the foremost landscape painters of the age and, in 1823, the first President of the Royal Hibernian Academy.

March 2016

ProvenanceMarquess of Camden, Lord Lieutenant's descendant; purchased, Mr Anthony Spink, of Spink and son Ltd., London, 1976
Exhibition History(?)British Institution, London, 1809
Label TextOne of many views Ashford produced around Dublin, this painting acknowledges Claudean tradition, but also serves as a fascinating record of the city’s western boundary. Commissioned for the Lord Lieutenant, it features some of Dublin’s best known buildings, including the churches of St Werburgh and St Michan, both Christ Church Cathedral and St Patrick’s Cathedral, and Gandon’s recently completed Four Courts. High on the left is the Magazine Fort.

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