Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VA… Read more
William Turner de Lond (fl. c. 1820 - c. 1837)

The marketplace and court-house, Ennis, Co. Clare

William Turner de Lond (fl. c. 1820 - c. 1837)
The marketplace and court-house, Ennis, Co. Clare
signed and dated 'W. Turner Pinx. 1820' (lower right) and inscribed 'ENN[IS] CORK LIMERICK ENNIS CORK KILLLARNIS' (centre right, on the coach)
oil on canvas
29¾ x 41¾ in. (75.6 x 106 cm.)
with M. Newman, Ltd., London.
B. O'Dalaigh, 'An Early Nineteenth Century Painting of Ennis', The Other Clare, X, 1986, p. 14.
C. Kinmonth in Laffan, Painting Ireland, 2006, pp. 106-7, pl. 73.
(Possibly) Limerick, Brunswick Street, Mr. O'Connor's Exhibiton Room, October 1821, as 'The Market Place and Court House Ennis'.
Cork, Crawford Municipal Art Gallery, Whipping the Herring: Survival and Celebration in Nineteenth Century Irish Art, 4 May-26 August 2006.
Special Notice

No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.

Condition Report

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

This picture provides a rare glimpse of life in Ennis in the early 19th Century. The court-house, which is the dominant architectural feature of the picture, with its noble gated facade, had been built in 1733 at the junction of Jail Street, probably to a design by the local amateur architect Francis Bindon. It provided the centre of justice for the county and was also an important commercial and social hub for Ennis and Co. Clare more generally, incorporating a market exchange within its gated lower arches and serving a multitude of other uses. It was later demolished to make way for a monument to Daniel O' Donnell, which still survives today. The market in the foreground, to which Turner de Lond devotes such detailed attention, occured in the town on a weekly basis and established Ennis as the commercial centre of Co. Clare, a process which was much facilitated by the expansion of the road network throughout the county in the 18th and early 19th Centuries. By 1820 the market had expanded to such an extent that the markets of many of the principal commodities that were traded were no longer held in the square itself. By then the sale of corn took place in Cornmarket Square, while the milk and meat markets had been transferred to the Lower Market in front of Chapel Lane. Nevertheless, as the picture shows, a considerable array of business still took place in front of the court-house.

Turner de Lond's panorama delights in the sheer variety of such market activity. In front of the court-house some men gather to inspect the carcass of a pig, slung across a horse's back, thus sidestepping the early 18th Century regulations which banned butchers from setting up stalls there. While, on the left of the composition, a covered stall displays coloured textiles. Markets such as this provided an important outlet for the local homespun woollens and woven linen, alongside farm produce. On the ground beside that stall, three 'higglers' or 'egglers' (as those trading in poultry came to be known) sit selling ducks and hens, and pale duck eggs form a basketwork creel, with barefoot children looking on, a woman selling cabbages and turnips bends down over her produce nearby. The market also featured dairy maids selling milk from pails, and one such maid can be seen carrying a pail of milk on her head, just beyond the cabbage seller, while Turner de Lond has used another wooden milk pail, on the far left of the composition, as a convenient location for his signature. The wide social mix on display on market days has not eluded the artist. The fashionably dressed men and women gathered calmly in the centre of the composition in their elegant top hats, high bonnets, and colourful coats and dresses, poised to enter the fray in search of one form of good or another, provide a contrast to the hussle and bussle of the market itself. In front of the court-house Turner de Lond includes another regular feature of daily life in Ennis; the arrival of the mail coach. The mail coach was then the town's only regular source of communication with the outside world. The first regular stage coach service between Ennis and Limerick was inaugurated in 1809 and ran three times a week, completing the journey in five hours, but by 1811 the service was operated by a mail coach that ran daily and was drawn by four horses, with six passengers allowed inside and three outside. As Brian O'Dalaigh (op. cit.) comments, the design of the coaches in use seems to have changed by the time this picture was executed, as Turner shows no less that nine outside passengers. The service was run by William Bourne, who controlled an extensive horse-drawn public transport system in the Munster area, running coaches to Cork, Tralee and Killarney, which explains why these names appear on the side of the mail coach in the picture. The Limerick to Ennis coach travelled by Cratloe and Six Mile Bridge and had its terminus at the Coach Office, Church Street Ennis. Turner emphasises the drama of the coach's arrival; while the passengers on top hold handkerchiefs to their faces to protect themselves from dust, children run excitedly behind the coach's back wheels.

An Englishman, William Tuner de Lond spent about two years in Ireland, where he painted a number of view pictures in which the topographical precision of his painting was balanced and enlivened by detailed depictions of everyday life. The year after he executed this picture he exhibited twenty-five works in Limerick in an exhibition which included thirty-nine pictures by other artists. Ten of the works that he exhibited on this occasion were of Irish subjects, including a view of 'The Market Place and Court House at Ennis' which may be this picture, or another version of the composition. Another version of the composition, of the same size as the present picture and also signed, but apparently not dated, which varies from the present picture in elements of detail, is in a private collection (on loan to the Merrion Hotel, Dublin; for which see B. O'Dalaigh, op. cit, p. 13, illustrated).

More from Glin Castle - A Knight in Ireland

View All
View All