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Henry Kirchhoffer, R.H.A. (c. 1781-1860)

Francis Johnston's belfry and Gothic folly in his garden, Eccles Street, Dublin

Details
Henry Kirchhoffer, R.H.A. (c. 1781-1860)
Francis Johnston's belfry and Gothic folly in his garden, Eccles Street, Dublin
with the label 'This picture was painted by Henry Kirchhoffer, Royal Hibernian Academy. It was exhibited in the Royal Hibernian Academy as View of Mrs Johnston's garden from dining room window_' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas, unlined
20 x 22 in. (50.8 x 55.8 cm.)
Provenance
Francis Johnston (1760-1829), architect, notably of the Royal Hibernian Society premises, and by descent to
Colonel George Hamilton Johnson, Kilmore House, Richhill, Co. Armagh, by 1909 (when on display in the dining room), and at least until 1913.
Literature
W.T. Pike, Belfast and the Province of Ulster in the Twentieth Century, Brighton, 1909, p. 225, illustrated in situ.
W.G. Strickland, Dictionary of Irish Artists, Dublin, 1913, I, p. 582.
Crookshank & Glin, The Painters of Ireland, 1978, p. 177, fig. 158. Crookshank & Glin, Ireland's Painters, 2002, p. 189, fig. 246.
E. Henderson in Laffan, Painting Ireland, 2006, pp. 205-8 and 249, fig. 140.
Knight of Glin and J. Peill, 'A newly discovered signature on a piece of Irish furniture', Antiques, October 2008, p. 144.
Exhibited
Dublin, Royal Hibernian Academy, 1832.
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Lot Essay

One of Dublin's greatest architects, Francis Johnston designed Saint George's Church and the General Post Office, as well as designing and building the premises of the Royal Hibernian Society at his own expense. He remodelled his home, no. 60 (now 64) Eccles Street to his own designs. The perpendicular style Gothic folly he erected in the garden became one of the Dublin landmarks of his day. The monumental belltower was equipt with a peal of ten bells; Johnston was a keen campanologist who would stop to visit any village church 'where the church spire was enriched with a chime of bells' (E. Catterson-Smith, 'What Dublin owes to Francis Johnston', The Lady of the House, Dublin, 15 January 1902). The tower was eventually demolished; eight bells were melted down, while the remaining two are untraced. As well as providing a record of Johnston's spectacular monunument, Kirchhoffer's charming window view is also 'a rare pictorial record of an early nineteenth-century middle-class Dublin garden' (Henderson, loc. cit.).

Henry Kirchhoffer belonged to a Dublin family of Swiss extraction; his father was the Dublin cabinet-maker John Kirchoffer. Henry would have known Johnston as a fellow artist and member of the Royal Hibernian Society, of which the later was a founding member and second president. The present lot was exhibited at the R.H.S. in 1832, and is the work for which Kirchhoffer is best known today.

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