Lot 19
  • 19

JAMES HORE | The Four Courts, Dublin, from the Quay; The Phoenix Park in the Distance

25,000 - 35,000 GBP
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  • James Hore
  • The Four Courts, Dublin, from the Quay; The Phoenix Park in the Distance
  • signed, titled and dated 1837 on the reverse
  • oil on canvas
  • 40.5 by 56cm., 16 by 22in.


Cynthia O'Connor & Co., Dublin, 1976;
Adam's, Dublin, 25 March 1992, lot 72


London, Royal Academy, 1837, no.482;
Boston, Boston College Museum of Art, America’s Eye: Irish Paintings from the Collection of Brian P. Burns, 26 January - 19 May 1996, no.25, illustrated p.103, with tour to Dublin, Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, 19 June - 25 August 1996 and New Haven, Yale Center for British Art, 25 September 1997 - 4 January 1998;
Phoenix, Phoenix Art Museum, A Century of Irish Painting: Selections from the Brian P. Burns Collection, 3 March - 29 April 2007, illustrated p.70;
Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, Ireland: Crossroads of Art and Design, 1690-1840, 17 March - 7 June 2015, no.69, illustrated p.70, fig.12


Dr. Michael Wynne, 'James Hore, Gentleman View Painter', Irish Arts Review, vol.2, no.1, Spring 1985


Canvas has been lined (hence the original inscription verso is no longer visible). There are some areas of craquelure in the sky which appear stable. Also some minor spots of surface dirt near the upper right corner; otherwise the work appears in good overall condition. UV light reveals areas of retouching in the sky, also by the lower right edge, two small spots in the river and also in the lower left corner. Held in a gilt moulded frame. ready to hang.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Little is known about James Hore, who exhibited this oil together with two more at London’s Royal Academy in 1837, from a London address. Here he shows Dublin’s imposing and impressive Four Courts; Ireland’s premier law courts built in the late eighteenth century by James Gandon. The Custom House, Dublin also painted by Hore, showed another splendid Gandon building sited further down the river Liffey, while his view of Trinity College and the Bank, Dublin would also have included that celebrated English architect’s work; completing his trio of the capital’s most important public architecture, at that time. The imposingly huge low dome of the Four Courts dominates the scene. Its symmetrical, south facing Palladian façade, lit by morning sunlight, is reflected in the river where people lean over and fish. His view looks west upriver, with Wellington’s obelisk (still the tallest in Europe) drawing the eye towards a distant low horizon. Both low stone bridges, each with three elliptical arches, were designed by George Knowles, their foundation stones laid in 1816. The closest is Richmond Bridge, while beyond is Whitworth Bridge; since renamed after O’Donovan Rossa and Father Mathew, respectively.

The depiction of Dublin’s grandest architecture was lucrative for painters and engravers. Many others focused on this scene, notably George Petrie and James Malton, but the latter’s viewpoint presented cleanliness, clarity and beauty, whereas Hore, like Brocas, subtly revealed some of the grittier, contrasting realities of street life. The Wide Street Commission established in 1757, aimed towards ‘broader, healthier thoroughfares – public places enhanced by the harmony of rectilinear streetscapes’ with an ‘ordered elegance’. Their ‘artistic additions to facades, including balustrades, pedestals, rustic quoins, vases and arms’1 are discernable within Hore’s detail. Especially on the right along Upper Ormond Quay, where tall brick buildings above middle ranking shops, have their glazed displays framed by neo-classical pilasters.

Shopkeepers complained about filthy streets. Hore even shows this; depicting ‘scavengers’ employed by the city authorities to sweep and scrape roads with shovels (centre foreground). While on Merchant’s Quay (far left), two more are involved with a heap in the middle of the road.2 Two men carry a sedan chair south across Wood Quay. These were licensed, and favoured by wealthy women desiring cleanliness and separation.3 Others refused to alight from their vehicles, forcing reluctant shopkeepers to come out and discuss purchases through the carriage windows instead. A barefoot child plays with a dog; another holds his mother’s hand. Nearby a street-seller’s donkey is heavily laden and two Scotch side cars (one near the soldiers in the foreground) are distinct among the mass of pedestrians. Three ‘outside jaunting cars’, each with a central well for luggage, enabled passengers to sit facing outwards, and are shown going westward toward Richmond Bridge. Hore paints detailed rare glimpses of ‘covered cars’, or ‘inside jaunting cars’, also going west, on the far left.4 Their oilcloth roofs and curtains allowed protection from weather, but restricted travellers’ views.

More of Hore’s impressive work awaits discovery; surviving watercolours suggest he was in Rome in 1829.5

Dr Claudia Kinmonth MRIA

1 Diarmuid Ó Grádá, Georgian Dublin, the forces that shaped the city (Cork University Press, 2015), p. 83-4.

2 William Laffan ed., The Cries of Dublin Drawn from the life by Hugh Douglas Hamilton, 1760 (Irish Georgian Society, 2006), pp. 138-39.

Ó Grádá, Georgian Dublin, pp.260-61.

4 Mr & Mrs. S.C. Hall, Ireland: Its scenery, Character etc., Vol. 1 (How & Parsons, London, 1851), pp. 64-5.

5 Adele M. Dalsimer & Vera Krielkamp, America’s Eye: Irish paintings from the Collection of Brian P. Burns (Boston College Museum of Art, 1996), p.103.