Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Statue of George II and Weavers Hall, Dublin redux

 
The Statue of George II and Weavers Hall, Dublin (redux).
 
George II.
In Garter Robes
1750.
Attributed to John van Nost III
but possibly by Benjamin Rackstrow.
 
Formerly on Weavers Hall, The Coombe, Dublin.
 
Architect Joseph Jarret of Dublin, 1747.
 
 
The figure of George, holding shuttles and other implements relating to the weaving trade, was removed and destroyed in November 1937 - it was feared by the owners of the building that the IRA might attempt to blow it up.
 
The Irish Times (17 November 1937) covered the story as follows:
STATUE OF KING HACKED TO PIECES
BETTER TO HAVE IT BLOWN UP”
What is described as “the last British King in the City of Dublin” was beheaded in Dublin yesterday morning. Immediately afterwards men set about the task of hacking off his legs and arms. This was the fate which met the bronze statue of King George II, which has stood over the entrance of the Weavers’ Hall, in the Coombe, since 1750, and the reason is that the present owners of the premises, Messrs S. Fine and Co., Ltd., thought it better to have the statue peacefully removed than to have it blown up.
An Irish Times reporter was told that it had been necessary to dismember the statue in order to take it down without damaging the face of the building. It was fitted into the front of the house with iron stays, and to have removed it en bloc would have defaced the masonry. Some idea of the weight of the statue may be gathered from the fact that the head alone weighs almost 50lb.
 
Although described as bronze I suspect it was actually made of lead and originally gilded
 
This is probably rather disingenuous - it was probably much easier to hack it apart and then sell it for scrap rather than to hire a crane and remove it carefully - a great loss..
Fine and Company were house furnishers but a watercolour by Flora Mitchell painted in the 1950's shows a very down at heel building. There are photographs of it in its final stages of disintegration before it was demolished in the Irish Architectural Archive on Merrion Square, Dublin which I publish below.
 
Weavers Hall itself was finally demolished in 1965.
 
 
 
During the seventeenth century a number of French Huguenot weavers arrived in Dublin. They settled manly in the Liberties area of Dublin, west of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where they became part of the existing weaving fraternity. Many of them were experienced silk weavers and their expertise contributed to the establishment of a thriving silk and poplin industry.
 
A weavers’ hall had been built by the Guild in the Lower Coombe in 1682 and by 1745, when the building of a new hall was required, it was a Huguenot, David Digges La Touche, who advanced the £200 needed. The main room of the new hall is described as being fifty-six feet long by twenty-one feet wide, wainscoted, and hung with portraits of kings and notabilities, and included a tapestry portrait of King George II, woven by John van Beaver (see below).
 
 
This image from The Dublin Penny Journal vol 4 12 December, 1835.
 
 
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 Image South Dublin Libraries
 
 
 
 
 
Cropped from above photograph.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The above 7 images from the Irish Architectural Archive, Merrion Square, Dublin.

 
 
Photograph from the Dictionary of Dublin, 1908.
 
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From the Joseph Jarratt scrapbook.
 
Irish Architectural Archive
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Chimneypiece design from the Joseph Jarratt scrapbook
Irish Architectural Archive.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Another more austere chimneypiece from the Jarrat Album
Possibly representing a chimneypiece from the ground floor of the Weavers Hall.
All photographs of the interior of the Weavers Hall from the Irish Architectural Archive
Photographed by the author 6 October 2016.
 
I am extremely grateful to Colum O'Riordan and all at the Irish Architectural Archive for making me welcome and in particular for allowing me access to the Jarratt scrapbooks.
 
It is possible that the interior fittings of the Weavers Hall were saved.
The Irish Archive files suggest that some of them were moved and were in The Cottage, Kanturk in 1987. A Google search could find no mention of it.
 
 
 
Design from the scrap album and signed by Joseph Jarratt.
 
 
 
 
Tapestry weaving by van Beaver of George II originally in the Weavers Hall
now Metropolitan Museum, New York.
 
It has been suggested that this frame was also designed by Jarratt given the similarities.
 
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A Marble bust of David Digges La Touche II (1671 - 1745).
byJohn van Nost III.
Huntington Library, California.
 
image title
 
This image from the Art Chicago.
 
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The Pediment of the door case on the floor of the first floor room in the derelict Weavers Hall
shortly before demolition in 1965. 
 
 
 
Not quite the End.
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Benjamin Rackstrow of Fleet Street, (d.1772).
 
The Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660 -1851 pub Yale, 2009  ed Ingrid Roscoe et al notes. In Entry under Rackstrow -  Dublin Courant, 17th October, 14 November 1749, and18 September 30 October 1750. quoted from Blacks guide to Ireland c. 1872.
 
There seems to be an urge in some recent scholarship to promote the idea of Rackstrow as sculptor. Certainly he was one of the greatest London showmen of the mid 18th century.
 
.
 
The handbill below shows that he exhibited a statue of George II in Royal Robes.
 
 
Bodleian Library
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For the fascinating but rather grim Catalogue of Rackstrow's Museum published in 1792 which includes mention of the figure of George II
see -
 
 
 
For a brief biog of Rackstrow see -
 
 
For a Catalogue of the Rackstrow Museum of 1792 see -
 
 
For my previous entry on Rackstrow see -
 
 
Image result for Benjamin Rackstrow
 
 
Bodleian Library Newspaper Cuttings
 

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