Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Architectural draughtsman and teacher of perspective, of London and Dublin. Thomas Malton, who was born in 1726, is said to have started life as an upholsterer in London, but began to exhibit architectural views in 1761.(1) In about 1769, he moved to Dublin, allegedly to avoid financial embarrassments at home. According to Mulvany's Life of James Gandon, he had just arrived when he wrote an anonymous pamphlet on the Royal Exchange competition designs, in which he was highly critical of Gandon's entry, favouring that of ROBERT MACK. ROBERT MACK. (2) He was back in London in the 1770s, exhibiting architectural drawings at the Royal Academy from a London address in 1772-75 and again in 1785, and publishing his two works on perspective, A Compleat Treatise on Perspective and The Royal Road to Geometry in 1775 and 1776 respectively.(3) In 1781 he successfully petitioned Gandon to employ his younger son, JAMES MALTON JAMES MALTON , on the Dublin Custom House project.(4) He himself settled permanently in Dublin in 1785, 'where he struggled,' according to Strickland, 'to support himself by teaching perspective'. His view of the interior of St Peter's Cathedral, Waterford, was engraved by John Roberts, while he in turn engraved two views by Francis Wheatley of Clontarf Sheds and Dublin Bay in 1785. McParland suggests that he may also have been the author (or one of the authors) of the anonymous Letters to Parliament, published in 1786 and 1787, which contained a scathing attack on Gandon.(5) Malton died in Dublin on 18 February 1801. It seems likely that the two perspective views of Carlisle Bridge 'by the late Thomas Malton' which were exhibited at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1837 and 1840, rather than being either by Thomas Malton, or his elder son, Thomas Malton, junior, were by James Malton, who might still have been in Gandon's office at the beginning of the Carlisle Bridge project; the drawings were exhibited again in 1853 under James Malton's name.(6)


All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from W.G. Strickland, A Dictionary of Irish Artists (1913), II, 98, and Howard Colvin, A Biographical dictionary of British architects 1600-1840 (3rd edn., 1995), 637.

(1) A. Graves, The Society of Artists of Great Britain…The Free Society of Artists (1907), 153, but cf. Colvin.
(2) T.J. Mulvany, ed., The Life of James Gandon…from materials collected and arranged by his son, James Gandon Esq. (1846), 34-35.
(3) Strickland dates The Royal Road to 1774.
(4) Mulvany, op. cit.,67n.
(5) E. McParland, James Gandon (1985), 95,195n70.
(6) See RHA Index, II, 254; these drawings were presented by Gandon's son to the RHA, see McParland, op. cit., 180.