Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Statue of the Duke of Cumberland, by John Cheere formerly on a Column at Emmet Square Birr Ireland

The Lead Statue of the Duke of Cumberland d.1765),
by John Cheere.

Formerly on top of a Column at Emmet Square, Birr, (Parsons Town) County Offaly, Ireland.
Removed in 1915.

In 1747, Sir Laurence Parsons of Birr Castle who had inherited the estate in 1740, commissioned a statue of the Butcher Cumberland and erected it on top of the handsome Doric column that stood at the heart of his town.

The newly formed Birr Freemason’s Lodge paraded in the towns’ equally new Palladian ‘Cumberland Square’ to mark the occasion.
The Column was designed by Samuel Chearnley (1717 - 46).

Design by Chearnley in Armagh Public Library.

A letter written by a William Sturgeon  to  the  Bishop  of  Meath,  of  24 March 1743, quotes Chearnley as saying: "I have always been a lover of architecture but this is the first essay which Sir Laurence has put to me". This makes explicit both Parsons’ patronage of Chearnley, but also could be said to hint at their collaborative relationship.
This letter also contains Chearnley’s acknowledgement of Claude Perrault’s Ordnances des Cinq Especes des Colonnes,translated into English in 1708, as the source for his design of his column in Birr.

The statue itself was personally paid for by Parsons. It was executed by Cheere of London, the same artist who executed the monument in memory of the Earl of Cork, on the north side of the altar in Christ's Church, Dublin. Things did not go wholly to plan. In a letter the Cheeres, expressed surprise when a crack appeared in the Duke’s leg, but insisted that it could be mended by a plumber and to pacify Sir Laurence, they included in the price a plaster bust of Cumberland, polished to imitate marble which, they noted, was ‘exceeding like and very handsome to stand in a room upon a table or chimney piece’
Dublin Journal of 3 June 1746 
"Sir Laurence Parsons, Bart and other Gentlemen in the King’s County, from a Principle of Loyalty, are going at their own expense to raise a marble pillar, fifty foot high, with a statue of the  Duke  of  Cumberland,  on  the  top  of  it,  in honour  of  his  Royal  Highness,  for  defeating and  vanquishing  the  rebels  at  Culleden-Muir"

Faulkner’s  Dublin  Journal  of  8  November 1746, as follows:
"The  Gentlemen  of  the  King’s  County  assembled at Parsonstown…and as they had before subscribed a large sum for a pillar and statue of his Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland, they thought no day more proper to lay the first stone of the monument of their gratitude to this young hero, who defended their civil and religious liberties"




Looking rather unsteady c.1915. 

Sometime later!

The severed head of Cumberland now in Birr Castle.

The head, which is owned by the Hunt Museum, is currently on loan to the Earl of Rosse and housed in Birr Castle, while part of the arm is to be found the Birr public library. I will endeavour to obtain more photographs.
Much of the information here culled from the excellent and comprehensive Conservation report by Howley Hayes, Architects of Dublin, 2009-

Bust of Richard Parsons, First Earl of Rosse (1702 - 41). In St Patrick's Cathedral Dublin.


Duke of Cumberland
Michael Rysbrack
signed on the back MICH:RYSBRACK 1754
Height 62 cms
Musee des Beaux Arts

Bought from Spink of London 1936.

The Rysbrack busts were sold on behalf of Lord Hatherton, Stafford who was a Littleton and whose ancestor Sir Edward Littleton who had bought this and 7 other Rysbrack busts for Teddesly Hall, Stafford now demolished.

 The Rysbrack Busts from Hatherton at the National Maritime Museum

"three now being in the NMM - made by Rysbrack for Sir Edward Littleton, for Teddesley Hall, his new house near Stafford (now demolished), which he was furnishing in the neo-classical style. 

They essentially comprised four pairs: Raleigh and Bacon (SCU0005), Shakespeare and Pope, Cromwell (SCU0014) and Milton, and Newton and Locke. Lord Hatherton (the Littleton barony dating from 1835) consigned these -excluding Shakespeare- and other Rysbracks that his ancestor had purchased, with the related Rysbrack letters about them, to Spink's for exhibition and sale in July 1932. Spink's related illustrated catalogue by Mrs Arundell Esdaile ('The Art of John Michael Rysbrack in Terracotta') fully transcribes the letters and is otherwise comprehensive. 

The Cromwell may date to as early as 1732, when Vertue saw one of him in Rysbrack's workshop. 

Previous Museum notes identify that of Pope as possbly 1735 and in the National Portrait Gallery; Milton as 1738, now at Stourhead (based on Rysbrack's Westminster Abbey monument and another bust done for William Benson); Newton (1739), now at Trinity College, Cambridge; Locke (1755?) in the Royal Collection. 

That of Shakespeare is unlocated but the V&A has one that may at least be a version. Raleigh and Bacon were conceived as a pair and the most expensive at 25 guineas each, though the sources for the Raleigh are not certain and it was not started until the Bacon had been sent off in June 1757: the others were all 16 guineas. 

These two, with the Cromwell, were purchased for the Museum at Spink's by Sir James Caird.

 In 1930 he had already bought from Hatherton, also through Spink, Hogarth's portrait of Inigo Jones (BHC2810), which Sir Edward Littleton had commissioned as another British notable".


Text above lifted from the National Maritime Museum

see -


Teddesley Hall,

Teddesley Hall

Teddesley Hall

Teddesley Hall

Teddesley Hall

Teddesley Hall

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