Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Sculptor and modeller, of Dublin, for whom see W.G. Strickland, A Dictionary of Irish Artists (1913), II, 383-390, Viola B.M Barrow, 'Edward Smyth'(a talk read to the Old Dublin Society in 1979), Dublin Historical Record 52, no. 1 (Spring 1999), 62-74, and Patrick Lenehan's well-illustrated 'Edward Smyth, Dublin's Sculptor', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 1989-1990, 67-76.(1) Edward Smyth is said to have been born in Co. Meath, but accounts of his parentage and date of birth differ: according to Warburton, Whitelaw & Walsh, he was the son of an army captain and born in 1746,(2) whereas the DNB states that he was born in 1749 and that his father was a stone-cutter, who settled in Dublin in about 1750.(3) As the registers of St Thomas's church give his age at the time of his death in August 1812 as sixty-seven, the earlier date is probably the more correct, while the anecdote from the Public Monitor related by Lenehan, in which an unnamed man expresses regret that Smyth should have been deprived of the advantages of 'a moderate fortune' because of the death of his 'noble-spirited father',(4) possibly tilts the balance in favour of the army captain rather than the stone-cutter.

Smyth was apprenticed to SIMON VIERPYL SIMON VIERPYL (5) and then entered the workshops of the builder and stone-cutter HENRY DARLEY[2] HENRY DARLEY[2] , where he modelled 'ornaments for chimney pieces, and occasionally for monumental tablets'.(6) In 1781 or 1782 Darley recommended him as a modeller to JAMES GANDON JAMES GANDON , who had come to Dublin to supervise the building of his new Custom House. Gandon was impressed by the models Smyth produced both for the plaster ornamentation of the interior of the cupola and for the coat of arms on the exterior, and told Darley that Smyth should cease to be his employee and set up in business on his own account. It was for the Custom House that Smyth designed and executed his most widely admired work, the fourteen 'riverine heads' which ornament the keystones.(7) This was the beginning of a continuing collaboration between Gandon and Smyth, who worked both as a sculptor and as a designer and modeller of ornamental plasterwork at the House of Lords the Four Courts and the King's Inns. Later he became the preferred sculptor of FRANCIS JOHNSTON FRANCIS JOHNSTON . Independently he designed a number of church monuments, which, in Potterton's opinion, are often surprisingly poor in design and execution.(8) A feature of his monument designs is the inclusion of medallion portraits of the deceased.

Smyth was the leading sculptor in Dublin for about thirty years, from his first commissions from Gandon in the early 1780s until his death in 1812, when he was engaged on the plasterwork of Francis Johnston's Chapel Royal at Dublin Castle. In June 1811, little more than a year before his death, he was appointed master of the Dublin Society's new School of Modelling and Sculpture at a salary of £50 per annum.(9) He died suddenly on 2 August 1812 and was buried in St Thomas's graveyard on 4 August.(10) His son and collaborator JOHN SMYTH [4]  JOHN SMYTH [4] succeeded him as Master of the School of Modelling and Sculpture.

Addresses:(11) 'at Mr Vierpyl's, Batchelor's Quay', 1772; Mabbot Street, 1780?;(12) Mecklenburgh Street, circa 1781;(13) North Strand, 1800; 36 Montgomery Street, 1802 until death.

See WORKS (for works excluding portrait busts) and BIBLIOGRAPHY. BIBLIOGRAPHY.



References

A portrait of Smyth by John Comerford engraved by H. Meyer is reproduced by W.G. Strickland, A Dictionary of Irish Artists (1913), C.P. Curran, ' Mr Edward Smyth', Architectural Review 101 (Feb 1947), 67, and John Turpin, A School of Art in Dublin since the 18th Century (1995), Pl. 40. William Woodhouse struck a commemorative medal of Smyth after a drawing by Comerford, for which he was awarded a £20 prize by the Royal Irish Art Union in 1842; Smyth's date of birth on the medal is given as 1749. A miniature by Comerford of a seated man with dividers and drawing instruments in the Comerford miniature collection is also said to be of Smyth but has the appearance of being a portrait of an architect (see Paul Caffrey, 'The Comerford Collection', Irish Arts Review  25, No. 4 (Winter, 2008), 98(illus.),99). 

(1) Other articles on Smyth are listed in the Bibliography. 'C.H.C' responding in B 24, 3 Feb 1866, 81, to a request for information about Smyth, refers the reader to the Citizen, a Dublin monthly published 1839-1842.
(2) J. Warburton, J. Whitelaw and R. Walsh, History of the City of Dublin (1818), 1186.
(3) I have not checked which of the DNB's sources is responsible for this information.
(4) Public Monitor, 22-24 Jul 1771.
(5) His address is given as 'at Mr Vierpyl's' in 1772, when he exhibited the model for his statue of Charles Lucas at the Society of Artists in Ireland. According to Curran, 'Mr Edward Smyth', Architectural Review 101 (Feb, 1947), 67, he also attended the Dublin Society's drawing school, but his name does not appear in the Society's lists of students and award winners.
(6) T.S. Mulvany, ed., The Life of James Gandon (1846), 77.
(7) The wax models for these, which were presented by Gandon to the Royal Hibernian Academy, were frequently exhibited: at the Society of Artists of Ireland in 1802, at the RHA in 1837, 1840, 1852 and 1853, and at the exhibition of Irish art in Whitechapel, London in 1913.  More recently they were on display in the Dublin Civic Museum.
(8) An annotated sketch for a funerary monument by Smyth, inscribed 'I can finish the above for £25 in two months provided I get 8 guineas to purchase the marble, 7th June Edward Smyth' is among the Barrington-Wyatt drawings in NLI, see C.P. Curran, Dublin Decorative Plasterwork(1967), 74,96(n.86).
(9) John Turpin, A School of Art in Dublin since the 18th Century (1995), 106-7; he had earlier been one of the 8 'directors' of the Figure Drawing School, see Turpin, op. cit., 96-7.
(10) An obituary notice appeared in the Irish Magazine, 1812 (not seen).
(11) From IALE II, 670, and Strickland unless otherwise stated.
(12) ?.
(13) ?.


24 work entries listed in chronological order for SMYTH, EDWARD *


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Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, CORK HILL, ROYAL EXCHANGE
Date: 1772-1779
Nature: Statue of Charles Lucas, MP. Model exh. Society of Artists, 1772. Winning entry in competition. Completed 1779.
Refs: J. Warburton, J. Whitelaw and R. Walsh, History of the City of Dublin (1818), I, 522; Dublin Penny Journal 1, 1 Jun 1833, 38; 9; W.G. Strickland, A Dictionary of Irish Artists (1913), II, 384; G. Breeze & M. Wynne, Society of Artists in Ireland:  Index of Exhibits, 1765-80  (National Gallery of Ireland, 1985), 27;  Viola B.M Barrow, 'Edward Smyth', a talk read to the Old Dublin Society in 1979 and published Dublin Historical Record 52, no. 1 (Spring 1999), 62-64; Patrick Lenehan, 'Edward Smyth, Dublin's Sculptor', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 1989-1990, 72(illus.); Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 364.

Building: CO. ANTRIM, LISBURN, CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL (CI, BLARIS & LISNAGARVEY PARISHES)
Date: 1780
Nature: Memorial to Lt. William Dobbs (1746-1778).
Refs: Dublin Evening Post, 9 Aug 1792; H.G. Leask, 'Some less known works of Edward Smyth, sculptor', JRSAI 80 (1950), 73-74(illus.); JRSAI 80 (1950), 73-74(illus.); Homan Potterton, Irish Church Monuments 1570-1880 (UAHS, 1975), 80

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, PATRICK STREET, ST PATRICK'S CATHEDRAL (CI)
Date: 1783
Nature: Statue of George, lst Marquess of Buckingham (1753-1813) in robes of Grand Master of Order of St Patrick. (Originally intended for New Geneva.)
Refs: W.G. Strickland, A Dictionary of Irish Artists (1913), II, 389; Homan Potterton, Irish Church Monuments 1570-1880 (UAHS, 1975), 80; E. McParland, James Gandon: Vitruvius Hibernicus (1985), 176; Patrick Lenehan, 'Edward Smyth, Dublin's Sculptor', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 1989-1990, 73(illus.);  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 622.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, PARNELL STREET (& CAVENDISH ROW), ROTUNDA (ROUND ROOM)
Date: 1786
Nature: Ox-head frieze attr. to ES by Curran on grounds of its similarity to carving under N portico of Custom House. (In Coade stone. Could ES have supplied model for this??)
Refs: Viola B.M Barrow, 'Edward Smyth', a talk read to the Old Dublin Society in 1979 and published Dublin Historical Record 52, no. 1 (Spring 1999), 71

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, COLLEGE GREEN, PARLIAMENT HOUSE
Date: 1787
Nature: Statues of Justice, Wisdom and Liberty over pediment of House of Lords. Erected early September 1787.
Refs: Dublin Evening Post, ? Apr 1787; Dublin Penny Journal, 15 Dec 1832, 193; Viola B.M Barrow, 'Edward Smyth', a talk read to the Old Dublin Society in 1979 and published Dublin Historical Record 52, no. 1 (Spring 1999), 70-71 E. McParland, James Gandon: Vitruvius Hibernicus (1985), 80; Patrick Lenehan, 'Edward Smyth, Dublin's Sculptor', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 1989-1990,71-2

Building: CO. MEATH, KILMESSAN, CHURCH (CI)
Date: 1788p
Nature: Monument to Maj General Preston 'almost certainly' by ES.(Potterton)
Refs: Homan Potterton, Irish Church Monuments 1570-1880 (UAHS, 1975), 80

Building: CO. DERRY, DERRY, BISHOP'S GATE
Date: 1789
Nature: Keystones representing Rivers Foyle and Boyne, copied from those on Custom House, Dublin, and martial trophies..
Refs: Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North West Ulster (1979), 374; Patrick Lenehan, 'Edward Smyth, Dublin's Sculptor', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 1989-1990, 71

Building: CO. KILKENNY, GOWRAN, CHURCH OF ST MARY (CI)
Date: 1789p
Nature: Bust of Viscount Clifden (signed); 'large unsigned memorial to Viscount Clifton's[sic] aunt, the Countess of Bandon (d. 1789) 'may be attributed confidently to him' (Potterton).
Refs: Homan Potterton, Irish Church Monuments 1570-1880 (UAHS, 1975), 80; St Mary's Church: Visitors' Guide, leaflet by Duchas The Heritage Service

Building: CO. MEATH, NAVAN, CHURCH OF ST MARY (RC)
Date: 1792
Nature: Life size wooden crucifix, signed and dated 1792.
Refs: Dublin Evening Post, 9 Aug 1792; H.G. Leask, 'Some less known works of Edward Smyth, sculptor', JRSAI 80 (1950), 74-75(illus.); Viola B.M Barrow, 'Edward Smyth', a talk read to the Old Dublin Society in 1979 and published Dublin Historical Record 52, no. 1 (Spring 1999), 72

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, CARLISLE BRIDGE (OLD)
Date: 1794a
Nature: Sculpted keystones representing Anna Liffey and Atlantic Ocean. (Removed to 30-32 Sir John Rogerson's Quay when bridge was reconstructed.)
Refs: T.J. Mulvany, The Life of James Gandon, Esq.(1846), 156; H.G. Leask, 'Some less known works of Edward Smyth, sculptor', JRSAI 80 (1950), 76(illus.);  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 459,694..

Building: CO. WESTMEATH, ATHLONE, CHURCH STREET, CHURCH OF ST MARY (CI)
Date: 1794p
Nature: Monument to William Handcock (d. 1794) with portrait medallion and mourning female figure.
Refs: Homan Potterton, Irish Church Monuments 1570-1880 (UAHS, 1975), 80; Christine Casey & Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North Leinster (1993), 130

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, HAWKINS STREET, DUBLIN SOCIETY
Date: 1798
Nature: Statue of Hibernia or Minerva over entrance of building. (Moved to Leinster House and thence to RDS showgrounds at Ballsbridge.)
Refs: Henry F. Berry, History of the Royal Dublin Society (1915), 97(n.1); Viola B.M Barrow, 'Edward Smyth', a talk read to the Old Dublin Society in 1979 and published Dublin Historical Record 52, no. 1 (Spring 1999), 71-2

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, ST ANDREW'S STREET, ST ANDREW'S CHURCH (CI, 2ND)
Date: 1803-04
Nature: Portland stone statue of St Andrew. Estimate of £113.15s. for executing same submitted 6 Jun 1803. Statue placed over doorway 16 Jun 1804. Removed to corner of yard when church was rebuilt.
Refs: DB 2, 1 Feb 1860, 195; IB 13, 1 Oct 1871, 249; B 24, 13, Jan,24 Nov 1866, 23,874;  Irish Times, 1 Feb 1894;  W.G. Strickland, A Dictionary of Irish Artists (1913), II, 388; Viola B.M Barrow, 'Edward Smyth', a talk read to the Old Dublin Society in 1979 and published Dublin Historical Record 52, no. 1 (Spring 1999), 72;  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 469.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, ST MARY'S PLACE, ST MARY'S CHURCH (CI)
Date: 1805p
Nature: Monument to William Watson.
Refs: W.G. Strickland, A Dictionary of Irish Artists (1913), II, 389

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, HARDWICKE PLACE, ST GEORGE'S CHURCH (CI)
Date: 1807;1809-1812
Nature: Keystones on W front (Faith, Hope and Charity) and probably keystone over door on E front; also work on clock storey.
Refs: Papers relating to St George's Church, Dublin…Ordered, by the House of Commons, to be Printed, 29 April 1825, 9,19 (copy in IAA, RP.D.130.10); Viola B.M Barrow, 'Edward Smyth', a talk read to the Old Dublin Society in 1979 and published Dublin Historical Record 52, no. 1 (Spring 1999), 73;  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 121.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, CASTLE STREET, DUBLIN CASTLE, CHAPEL ROYAL (CI)
Date: 1807p
Nature: External carving and interior plasterwork, with John Smyth. Unfinished at time of death.
Refs: Viola B.M Barrow, 'Edward Smyth', a talk read to the Old Dublin Society in 1979 and published Dublin Historical Record 52, no. 1 (Spring 1999), 72;  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 359;  Rita Larkin,  '"One guinea per head more": The figurative ornament of Edward and John Smyth'
in Myles Campbell & William Derham, eds., The Chapel Royal, Dublin Castle: An Architectural History (Dublin, Office of Public Works, 2015), 55-69(illus.).

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, COLLEGE GREEN, BANK OF IRELAND
Date: 1808a
Nature: Statues of Hibernia, Fidelity and Commerce, from sketches by John Flaxman. (But different account given in DPJ I, 15 Dec 1832, 193, which says that statues 'were executed by...John Smyth, that of Hibernia being modelled by his father, and the other two by the celebrated Flaxman'.)
Refs: F.G. Hall, The Bank of Ireland 1783-1946 (1949), 464-7;  Viola B.M Barrow, 'Edward Smyth', a talk read to the Old Dublin Society in 1979 and published Dublin Historical Record 52, no. 1 (Spring 1999), 72-73; Patrick Lenehan, 'Edward Smyth, Dublin's Sculptor', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 1989-1990, 72-73

Building: CO. DOWN, BRIGHT, CHURCH (CI)
Date: 1810p
Nature: Monument to Baron Lecale (d. 1810) 'owes so much to his style that, if it is not actually by him, it may be associated with his son John'.
Refs: Homan Potterton, Irish Church Monuments 1570-1880 (UAHS, 1975), 80

Building: CO. DERRY, DERRY, BISHOP STREET, COUNTY COURT HOUSE
Date: 1813-17
Nature: Statues of Justice & Peace on wings stated in Ordnance Survey memoir for Derry to be by 'the late' Edward Smyth, but as he died in 1812 the statues (if purpose made) are more probably by his son and successor John Smyth.
Refs: Drawings by JB in PRONI L/A 5; C.E.B. Brett architects files citing 'O/S Derry 1837'; Robert Simpson, The Annals of Derry(1847), 244

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, CUSTOM HOUSE QUAY, CUSTOM HOUSE
Date: ?
Nature: Arms of Ireland over E. & W. wings of N & S fronts; colossal figure of Commerce on dome; statues of Plenty and Industry above S portico; , pediment sculpture (from design by Agostino Carlini) and 14 keystones representing 13 Irish rivers and the Atlantic Ocean..
Refs: Design for one coat of arms in IAA (on loan from King's Inns Archives) Acc. 2007/10.M/1;  J. Warburton, J. Whitelaw and R. Walsh, History of the City of Dublin (1818),I, 517; T.J. Mulvany, The Life of James Gandon, Esq.(1846), 75-7,78-9n; IB 63, 18 Jun 1921, 417; E. McParland, James Gandon: Vitruvius Hibernicus (1985), 68-70; Patrick Lenehan, 'Edward Smyth, Dublin's Sculptor', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 1989-1990, 67-71(illus.); Anne Walsh, 'Uncatalogued drawings in the King's Inns Library', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 1989-11990, 40-41(illus.);  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 143,146.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, HENRIETTA STREET, KING'S INNS
Date: ?
Nature: Caryatid fugures and other ornaments on west front., including plaques over central arch and entrances to dining hall and prerogative court. Coat of arms over Henrietta Street gateway. Plasterwork in dining hall; heads of Justice in Benchers' Chambers. With John Smyth?
Refs: Dublin Penny Journal 4 (1834-35), 153; T.J. Mulvany, The Life of James Gandon, Esq.(1846), 169; Viola B.M Barrow, 'Edward Smyth', a talk read to the Old Dublin Society in 1979 and published Dublin Historical Record 52, no. 1 (Spring 1999), 72; E. McParland, James Gandon: Vitruvius Hibernicus (1985), 172-3(illus.); Patrick Lenehan, 'Edward Smyth, Dublin's Sculptor', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 1989-1990, 70-71(illus.),74(illus.), 75-6;  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 159.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, INNS QUAY, FOUR COURTS
Date: ?
Nature: External statuary: Moses, Justice, Mercy on central pediment; seated figures of Wisdom & Authority on corners. Internal reliefs in hall: bas-relief panels over doors to courts; medallions over windows; figures between windows of dome.
Refs: Engraved section of central block, showing Smyth's decorative scheme for interior, in IAA (on loan from King's Inns Archives), Acc.2007/10.2/10A; Dublin Evening Post, 20 Sep 1892; J. Warburton, J. Whitelaw and R. Walsh, History of the City of Dublin (1818), I, 526; W.G. Strickland, A Dictionary of Irish Artists (1913), II, 387; Viola B.M Barrow, 'Edward Smyth', a talk read to the Old Dublin Society in 1979 and published Dublin Historical Record 52, no. 1 (Spring 1999), 71; E. McParland, James Gandon: Vitruvius Hibernicus (1985), 163-164(illus.); Anne Walsh, 'Uncatalogued drawings in the King's Inns Library', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 1989-90, 39-40(illus.);  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 96,97.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, ECCLES STREET, NO. 064
Date: ?
Nature: ES 'almost certainly responsible' for plaques representing the Arts on house of Francis Johnston.
Refs: Viola B.M Barrow, 'Edward Smyth', a talk read to the Old Dublin Society in 1979 and published Dublin Historical Record 52, no. 1 (Spring 1999), 73

Building: CO. KILDARE, LYONS
Date: ?
Nature: 'At each side of the portico are lions in Irish granite, by Smyth.' (Burke) These were probably made for 2nd Baron Cloncurry and could be by either Edward Smyth or his son John Smyth.
Refs: J.B. Burke, Visitation of Seats and Arms (2nd ser., 1855), I, 81-2

Author Title Date Details
? 'Edward Smyth the Irish Sculptor' 1866 B 24, 3 Feb 1866, 81.
? '18th century architects and artists in Ireland' 1913 AR 34 (? ? 1913), 17.
Barrow, Viola B.m. 'Edward Smyth' 1999 Dublin Historical Record 52, no. 1 (Spring 1999), 62-74. (Talk read to the Old Dublin Society in 1979.)
Curran, Constantine P. 'Mr Edward Smyth' 1947 AR 101, Feb 1947, 67
Curran, Constantine P. 'Mr Edward Smyth' 1947 Architectural Review (Feb 1947), 67-69.
Curran, Constantine P. 'Edward Smyth' 1948 Capuchin Annual (1948), 302.
Frazer, William ''The medallists of Ireland and their work' 1886 JRSAI 17 (1885-6), 610.
Leask, Harold Graham 'Dublin Custom House: the Riverine Sculptures' 1945 JRSAI 75 (1945), 187-194
Leask, Harold Graham 'Some less known works of Edward Smyth, sculptor' 1950 JRSAI 80 (1950), 73-76.
Lenehan, Patrick 'Edward Smyth, Dublin's Sculptor' 1990 Irish Arts Review 1989-90, 67-76.
Pope, Thomas (canon) 'The sculptors Edward and John Smyth' 1866 DB 8, 16 Dec 1866, 294. ('From Lectures on "Art" delivered before the Catholic Young Men's Society , by Canon Pope'.)