Charlemont House was built in 1763 and designed by
William Chambers for James Caulfeild, the 1st Earl of Charlemont. It
is a brick fronted mansion on North Dublin's Parnell Square (formerly Rutland Square).
Lord Charlemont had met and befriended Sir William Chambers
in Italy while Chambers was on his Grand Tour and Charlemont was on a
collecting trip. Some years later, he hired Chambers to design the Casino at his
estate at Marino in Dublin, and later his townhouse – Charlemont House.
Charlemont’s extravagant building and collecting left his estate in financial
difficulties and his successor the 2nd Earl sold everything but Charlemont
House, the Casino and Marino house.
It was purchased by
the government in 1870 and since 1933 it has housed the Hugh Lane Dublin
The visitor to Charlemont’s library complex first passed
down a long passage with windows on the right, looking out on to the garden,
and niches on the left, filled with statues.
Half-way down this confined space a lobby was set, a temporary haven
of open space and light. This was occupied by Giovanni da Bologna’s famous bronze Mercury –
wonderfully slight in contrast to the solid architecture of the setting – and contained a short
flight of steps to accommodate the rising
ground to the rear
Charlemont Hose Library, Dublin with the bust of General Wolfe by Joseph Wilton
and the classical busts by Simon Vierpyl.
National Gallery of Canada
Bequeathed by Lord Roseberry, Dalmeny House, West Lothian, Scotland 1975.
Charlemont House, 'The Rockingham Library' with a bust of Lord Rockingham by Nollekens.
Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, KG,
PC, FRS (13 May 1730 – 1 July 1782), styled The Hon. Charles Watson-Wentworth
before 1733, Viscount Higham between 1733 and 1746, Earl of Malton between 1746
and 1750 and The Marquess of Rockingham
by Joseph Nollekens.
Burke recorded that no bust was made of Lord Rockingham
during his lifetime, Nollekens’s head being ‘made from a masque taken from his
face after his Death’.
Nollekens produced two patterns of bust using the head from
the Wentworth Woodhouse statue and presumably predating it.
The more common,
with loose classical drapery showing the ribbon and star of the Garter, is
represented at Althorp, Dalmeny, Muncaster Castle and Birmingham Museum &
Art Gallery (illus. M. Whinney, Sculpture in Britain 1530-1830, 1964, pl.123).
Another, given to Lord Charlemont in 1788 for his Rockingham Library at
Charlemont House, Dublin, belonged to his descendants in London in 1873 (Sir
George Scharf's Sketch Books, 87/63) and letters from Lady Rockingham to Lord
Charlemont described the production of this bust under Lady Rockingham’s
direction (F. Hardy, Memoirs of Lord Charlemont, 1812, II, pp 227-31).
The second type of Nollekens bust, showing different curls
on the wig and peer’s robes over a Garter ribbon, is represented in the Palace
of Westminster (from Wentworth Woodhouse; illus. M. Bond, Works of Art in the
House of Lords, 1980, p 104) and at Goodwood.
Work on the house resumed briefly about 1788, when, in a
personal gesture inspired not least by political circumstances, Charlemont set
about the addition of a third library, dedicated to the memory of the late Lord
Rockingham. To design the extension Charlemont asked James Gandon, formerly
Chambers’s pupil and at that time recognized as the country’s finest architect.
Despite the pressures of public works, Gandon felt that he
‘could not hesitate in complying with the urgent request of my earliest patron
and friend’. Reached through a new opening created in Chambers’s corridor,
Gandon’s Rockingham Library was a long symmetrical room, with columnar screens
dividing off the curved end-walls and circular windows above the columns.
Clearly the arrangement paid homage to Chambers’s earlier
designs. Once again books and sculpture complemented the architecture, with a
posthumous portrait of Lord Rockingham by Josep Nollekens set over the
fireplace and copies of Roman busts above the bookcases.
The busts, by
Charlemont’s sculptor and friend Simon Vierpyl (c. 1725–1810), numbered
seventy-eight in all, and were passed to the Royal Irish Academy in 1868.
However, they are a small and fortunate survival from the
earl’s collections. The library was dispersed in 1865, with the succession of
the third earl, most of it destroyed by fire before the actual sale.
the fittings of the house were removed to the country estate at Roxborough, Co.
Tyrone, then undergoing modernisation but dismantled in the early twentieth
Described by Lewis in 1837 as, “The private library of the
Earl of Charlemont is highly worthy of notice. It is contained in a building
attached to the town residence in Palace-row: the entrance to it is by a long
gallery, ornamented with antique busts, vases, and altars, which opens into a
large vestibule lighted by a lantern, which contains the works on antiquities
and numismatics, and has in a recess the statue of Venus and eight busts of
ancient and modern characters of celebrity. The principal library contains a
fine and well-selected collection of ancient and modern writers on most
departments of literature and some of science, very judiciously and happily
arranged; also some manuscripts, and an unique collection of Hogarth’s
engravings, mostly proofs. Over the chimney-piece is a fine bust of Homer.
Attached to the library is a small museum, a medal room, and a smaller library
of very elegant proportions, containing busts of the Earl of Rockingham and
22. 1769 – 1779. Ornamental stone carving, Architectural Sculpture. City Hall, Dublin.
23. Ornamental stone carving Architectural
Sculpture nd. St Thomas’s church,
Marlborough Street, Dublin.
24. Ornamental stone carving, Architectural
Sculpture nd. Royal Exchange, Dublin.
The 78 Roman busts.
under life size
Herrenius Etruscas _____________________
Lollia Paulina _____________________
Lucius Verus ________________
Manlia Scantilla ___________________
Septimus Severus _____________
Trajanus Decius. _____________________
Trabonianus Gallus _________________
Limestone Chimneypiece in Hugh Lane Gallery, formerly Charlemont House, Dublin attributed to Simon Vierpyl. Image from the excellent Irish Aesthete website. Heartily recommended to anyone with an interest in Irish Architecture and Art. https://theirishaesthete.com/2015/05/20/6794/
Design for the Hall Chimneypiece - Charlemont House,Dublin
Sir William Chambers (British (born Sweden), Göteborg
Pen and brown ink, brush and gray wash
18.4 x 22.3 cm
Bought Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1934.
Metropolitan Museum New York.
"A panel from the pedestal on which rests one of the lions at
the four corners of the casino at Marino, County Dublin (see Casino Royale,
March 25th). Although the building was designed by Sir William Chambers, the
work here was overseen by Engish sculptor Simon Vierpyl who had first met his patron,
the Earl of Charlemont when both men were in Rome in the 1750s.
due credit when he wrote of the casino that it ‘was built by Mr Verpyle [sic]
with great neatness and taste.’
The Portland stone used for the exterior was
imported from England and presumably carved on site under Vierpyl’s
supervision. It is astonishing to see that some 250 years later despite
exposure to the elements the two figures of winged fauns are still as sharp as
ever, down to the curls on their respective heads".
Studies for statues of pedestals of Apollo, Venus, Bacchus
and Ceres, for the Marino Casino, Clontarf, Co. Dublin.
All with inscriptions 'By Sir W. Chambers for The Earl of
Charlemont 1760' (lower left)
four pencil, pen and black ink, brown wash, one pencil, pen
and black ink, one with watermark Villedary, one with watermark 'GR', one with
partial watermark fleur-de-lys
10 x 5¾ in. (25.4 x 14.6 cm.); and smaller.
Christie's - Lot 113. 3 July 2012.
This letter refers to the five designs (Venus was revised)
for the four attic statues that Cipriani designed for Charlemont, for the
Casino. A translation is below.
My Lord, I didn’t touch with the pen the other figure of
Venus, whose sketch I had the honour to show you, it not being different in the
edge outline to that I formerly gave her along with the Ceres, and the Apollo,
except a little in the left arm is lower and outstretched, therefore in the
event that your excellency does not approve this design, the sculptor can
easily amend [it]. In the meantime I presume to wish your Excellence a very
happy journey and offer my very humble services and with profound respect give
myself the honour of bowing… Your humble and devoted servant, GB Cipriani