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Views of Dublin: original watercolours by George Petrie, MRIA, 1790-1866

To mark the 150th anniversary of the death of George Petrie, MRIA, the library curated an exhibition showcasing the Academy Library’s collection of framed original views of Dublin, which were presented to the Library by the Marquess of Kildare in 1866. Also displayed were several engravings of Petrie’s drawings of Dublin and its environs, which featured in several nineteenth-century travel guidebooks to Ireland, held in the Library’s collections. The original exhibition ran from 19 January – 15 February, 2016.

Views of Dublin: original watercolours by George Petrie, MRIA, 1790-1866

George Petrie was an artist, antiquary, musicologist, ethnographer, cultural historian and archaeologist, often referred to as ‘the father of Irish archaeology’. He was a member of the Royal Irish Academy, serving as Vice-President on more than one occasion, where he contributed greatly to its museum and library and worked hard to gain for the Academy many of its treasures.

Petrie, a gifted landscape artist and illustrator, was the son of Dublin portrait painter, James Petrie. He attended the drawing school of the Dublin Society, where he was awarded a silver medal for figurative drawing at the age of 13. He began his life-long series of tours of Ireland in 1808, sketching Irish scenery and antiquities, including ruined castles and churches, stone crosses and sepulchral monuments

The Academy Library holds many of Petrie’s original manuscript papers, letters and sketches, including those illustrated papers for which he won the Academy gold medal three times, on the subjects of the Round Towers of Ireland (1833), Irish military architecture (1834) and the history and antiquities of Tara Hill (1837).  The Library also holds the collection of framed original views of Dublin and two volumes of antiquarian drawings of Connacht, Leinster and Munster (12 T 16-17). Read More

The Custom House, Dublin, 1821

College Green, Dublin, 1821

Parliament House, College Green, Dublin, 1821

St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, 1821

View of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, 1821

The Chapel Royal and Record Tower, Dublin Castle, 1821

View of City Hall, Dublin, 1821

The Rotunda and Lying-in Hospital, Dublin, 1821

Sackville Street [O’Connell Street], Dublin, 1821

The Pro-Cathedral (St. Mary's), Dublin, 1821

The New Theatre Royal, Dublin, 1821

The Four Courts, Dublin, 1821

King’s Inns, Dublin, 1821

View of Dublin from the North, Dublin, 1821

For full catalogue records, go to our Prints, Drawings and Artefacts Catalogue.

Engravings after original drawings by George Petrie

The early nineteenth century saw a growth in tourism and increasing literacy in Ireland and Britain which led to an increased demand for guidebooks, many of which were illustrated with steel engravings. George Petrie contributed topographical drawings to many of these publications, some of which are shown below. Other publications to which Petrie contributed include John James McGregor’s New picture of Dublin (Dublin, 1821) and G. N. Wright’s Historical guide to ancient and modern Dublin (London, 1821), both of which are in the Library’s collections.

Dublin from the Phoenix Park

Engraving by J. & H. S. Storer after original drawing by George Petrie, MRIA from J. N. Brewer, The Beauties of Ireland: being original delineations, topographical, historical, and biographical, of each county, vol. 1 (London, 1825). A similar engraving by Edward Goodall of Petrie’s drawing features in Dublin delineated in twenty-six views of the principal public buildings (Dublin, 1831). RR/Cupb.2/C/10 and MR/17/N/28
This view of Dublin is taken from the Phoenix Park near the Magazine Fort, with Sarah’s Bridge (now Island Bridge) in the foreground and the Wellington Testimonial (or Monument) on the high ground to the left.

Nelson’s Pillar, Sackville-Street, Dublin

Engraving by Richard Winkles after original drawing by George Petrie, MRIA from Dublin delineated in twenty-six views of the principal public buildings (Dublin, 1831). MR/17/N/28
Nelson’s Pillar was a monument erected by the citizens of Dublin in 1808-09 in honour of Lord Nelson. It consisted of a Grecian Doric column on a square pedestal, supporting a statue of Nelson and rose to 134 feet in total. It was destroyed by a bomb in March 1966 and the Spire of Dublin now stands in its place.

Carlisle Bridge and the Custom House, Dublin

Engraving by I Barber after original drawing by George Petrie, MRIA from Thomas Cromwell, Excursions through Ireland, vol. II (London, 1820). D.1042
Carlisle Bridge (now O’Connell Bridge) and the Custom House were both designed by James Gandon, with the bridge being built between 1791-94. It spans the River Liffey in Dublin and was reconstructed in 1877-80 in order to bring it to the same width as Sackville Street (now O’Connell Street). It was then renamed O’Connell Bridge.

Monkstown Castle, Co. of Dublin

Engraving by T. Higham after original drawing by George Petrie, MRIA from Thomas Cromwell, Excursions through Ireland, vol. II (London, 1820). D.1042
Extract from Cromwell, p. 35: ‘Monkstown, five miles and a half S. E., upon Dublin Bay. Here is a Castle; and the Church is a handsome modern edifice, frequented for public worship by all the gentry of the rich and populous vicinity. Here, according to Archdall, was a grange belonging to the Monks of the Priory dedicated to the Holy Trinity, in Dublin; from whence probably the appellation of the village.’

Howth Light House, from the Needles (Vignette)

Engraving by Edward Goodall after original drawing by George Petrie, MRIA from the title-page of G. N. Wright, Ireland Illustrated (London, 1832). MR/16/C/22
This title page is included in the Academy Library’s 1833 edition of the publication. According to Petrie, writing in the Dublin Penny Journal, vol. 1 (21), Nov. 17, 1832, ‘The Needles’ was the name given to ‘the two remarkably pointed rocks on the south side of that beautiful promontory, popularly known to mariners by the name of "the Needles," or sometimes, "the Candlesticks."






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