WILLIAM ASHFORD, P.R.H.A. (BIRMINGHAM C.1746-1824 DUBLIN)
WILLIAM ASHFORD, P.R.H.A. (BIRMINGHAM C.1746-1824 DUBLIN)
WILLIAM ASHFORD, P.R.H.A. (BIRMINGHAM C.1746-1824 DUBLIN)
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WILLIAM ASHFORD, P.R.H.A. (BIRMINGHAM C.1746-1824 DUBLIN)
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This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … Read more PROPERTY OF A SWISS PRIVATE COLLECTOR
WILLIAM ASHFORD, P.R.H.A. (BIRMINGHAM C.1746-1824 DUBLIN)

The River Clodiagh at Charleville Forest, Co. Offaly, with the castellated farm buildings and gothic dairy in the distance

Details
WILLIAM ASHFORD, P.R.H.A. (BIRMINGHAM C.1746-1824 DUBLIN)
The River Clodiagh at Charleville Forest, Co. Offaly, with the castellated farm buildings and gothic dairy in the distance
signed and dated 'W. Ashford 1801' (lower right)
oil on canvas
40 x 51 in. (100 x 126 cm.)
Provenance
Commissioned from the artist by Charles William Bury, 1st Earl of Charleville (1764-1835), Charleville Castle, Co. Offaly, and by descent to,
Alfred Bury, 5th Earl of Charleville (1829–1875), and by inheritance with the house to his niece, youngest daughter of the 3rd Earl,
Lady Emily Alfreda Julia Howard Bury (1856-1931), and by descent to her son,
Charles Kenneth Howard Bury (1883-1963), by whom sold at the following,
Charleville Castle Sale; Allen and Townsend, Dublin, 1 February 1948.
Anonymous sale [The Property of a Lady]; Christie's, London, 12 July 1991, lot 67 (£132,000), when acquired by the present owner.
Literature
Sir Charles Coote, General View of the Kings' County, 1801 pp. 179-80.
M. Girouard, 'Charleville Forest, Co. Offaly', Country Life, 27 September 1962, pp. 710-714.
A. Rowan, 'Georgian Gothic Castles in Ireland', Irish Georgian Society Bulletin, Jan/Mar 1964.
E. Malins and the Knight of Glin, Lost Demesnes: Irish Landscape Gardening, 1660-1845, 1976, p. 87, plates 97, 98, 99.
A. Crooksank and the Knight of Glin, The Painters of Ireland C.1660-1920, 1978, pp.134-135, plate 31.
A.M. Stewart, ed., Irish Art Loan Exhibitions 1765-1927, I, 1990, p. 19.
W. Laffan and B. Rooney, Thomas Roberts, landscape and patronage in eighteenth-century Ireland, exhibition catalogue, Dublin, 2009, p. 302, fig. 246.
F. O’Kane, Ireland and the Picturesque: Design, Landscape Painting and Tourism 1700-1840, London, 2013, pp. 174 and 176, fig. 158.
Exhibited
Dublin, The Society of Artists of Ireland, 1801, one of nos. 5, 51, 58, 71, 78, each entitled 'View in Charleville Forest a seat belonging to Lord Viscount Charleville'.
Special notice

This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Clementine Sinclair
Clementine Sinclair Specialist, Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

This picture and the following lot originally formed part of a larger series of five views of Charleville, County Offaly, in the centre of Ireland, which was commissioned from William Ashford by Charles Bury, Viscount Charleville (later 1st Earl of Charleville), in 1801, the year that Ashford was elected an Irish Representative Peer.
Ashford, as the foremost landscape artist working in Ireland at the end of the eighteenth century, received commissions from many of the most prominent landowning families in Ireland, including the Duke of Leinster and Earl FitzWilliam, and was elevated to the post of first President of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1823. He was a self-taught artist; he came to Dublin from Birmingham in 1764, not to attend the Society Schools but to take up the position of Clerk to the Comptroller of the Laboratory section of the Ordnance. He began exhibiting at the Society of Artists in William Street in 1767. These early pieces, though attractive, display an amateurish quality and it was not until later that he began to gain renown as a landscape painter, winning the second premium from the Society of Artists in 1772 and the first premium a year later. It was also at the Dublin Society that he would exhibit his series of views of the grounds, the river and the Gothic Dairy at Charleville in 1801. An anonymous critic singled the group out at that exhibition, commenting: ‘There is here abundant scope for an exertion of the artist’s genius in the delineation of foliage. The articulation is perfect and the colouring so beautifully rich, and various, that I could with pleasure have spent hours in viewing them’.
Charleville Castle sometimes known as Charleville Forest for its ancient oak woods was the fantastical creation of Charles William Bury, who inherited the property in 1785. An amiable dilettante with antiquarian and architectural interests, he had done the grand tour to Italy and sought plans from the Romano-Scottish virtuoso James Byers for a huge Palladian house. However, Lord Tullamoore as he then was, changed his mind and sketched out gothic schemes for a dramatic asymmetrical castle with interiors in the spirit of Walpoles' Strawberry Hill. Lady Louisa Conolly wrote to his wife on 8 November 1800: 'I am very glad to hear that you have begun your Castle for I think there are few occupations more entertaining than building and Lord Tullamoore will enjoy it much having planned it all himself'. The great Irish architect Francis Johnston put these plans into practice and Charleville is certainly the finest gothic castle of its date in Ireland. The interior with its Fonthill-like hall, vast fan vaulted gallery, stables with coroneted stalls and the surrounding woods and river made Charleville a most picturesque property. Sir Charles Coote in 1801 described its fifteen hundred acres of full grown timber continuing - 'the Clodiagh runs with rapidity through the demesne...with several rustic bridges, which with cascades have altogether the most charming effect. The grotto...is finished in true rustic style...'. However, Coote did not mention the castellated farm yard with its gothic dairy shown in the first of Ashfords' paintings (the present lot). The second (the following lot) graphicly shows one of the weirs or cascades and the surrounding woodland mentioned by Coote. The battlemented twin-towered complex with the octagonal dairy depicted in the distance was probably designed by Lord Charleville himself as a number of drawings in his hand of fort-like buildings were amongst the collection of architectural drawings sold from Charleville Castle in 1985. He also employed the Irish architect John Pentland in these schemes before taking up the far better known Francis Johnston. Two more paintings from the series are known today – one in the National Gallery of Ireland portraying a rustic stone bridge with a fisherman, and another in a private collection showing a wooden bridge spanning the river with its rocky river bed (sold Christie’s, London, 8 December 2015, £218,500). The fifth in the series is today unknown.

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