Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Architectural draughtsman, of London and Dublin. James Malton, the younger son of THOMAS MALTON THOMAS MALTON , senior, was born in England in 1765.(1) Mulvany's Life of James Gandon relates that when work began on the Dublin Custom House - the foundation stone was laid in August 1781 - Thomas Malton petitioned Gandon to employ James as a drawing clerk. Gandon acceded, thinking the young man to be 'quite a promising person' but dismissed him after 'nearly three years' because 'he so frequently betrayed all official confidence, and was guilty of so many irregularities'.(2) Precisely when Malton was dismissed is not known; Gandon had evidently already found his behaviour unsatisfactory by February 1783, when Paul Sandby forwarded to Gandon from London a letter from 'young Malton', which attempted to explain his misconduct.(3) The Knight of Glin endorses the view of Maurice Craig and others that James Malton was the anonymous author of the virulent attack on Gandon which appeared in Letters addressed to Parliament published in 1786 and 1787,(4) but McParland suggests that Thomas Malton, senior, is a more likely candidate.(5) In 1787 James Malton was an unsuccessful candidate for the post of Master of the Dublin Society's School of Architectural Drawing in succession to THOMAS IVORY. THOMAS IVORY. (6) In 1790 he sent drawings of Heywood and Castle Durrow, Co. Laois, from Dublin for exhibition at the Society of Artists in London, and the following year, 1791, he completed his well-known series of drawings of Dublin buildings. He then returned to London, where he began to engrave the Dublin drawings in etching and aquatint, publishing them as a series between 1792 and 1799. When the series was complete, he published all the engravings in a bound volume under the title A Picturesque and Descriptive View of the City of Dublin (1799). He died in Marylebone on 28 July 1803. 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 and under whose name the drawings were again exhibited in 1853.(7)

There is no record of any building having been erected to plans by Malton. He designed a pavilion for Frederick Augustus Hervey, Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry, in 1792 which does not appear to have been executed,(8) while the two perspective views of an unidentified Gandonesque villa, which were formerly at Glenaulin, Co. Dublin,(9) may also represent an original design by him.

The Irish Architectural Archive has a drawing by Malton of the interior of Gandon's Coolbanagher church, with the figures of Gandon, Lord Portarlington and the Dean of Kildare.(10)



All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from W.G. Strickland, A Dictionary of Irish Artists (1913), II, 90-91, and Howard Colvin, A Biographical dictionary of British architects 1600-1840 (3rd edn., 1995), 636-7. See also Andrew & Charlotte Bonar Law, The Irish Prints of James Malton (Neptune Gallery, Dublin, 1999).

(1) .P.J. Raftery, 'Who was Malton?'. Dublin Historical Record 19, no. 4 (Sep 1964), 106, gives the date of his birth as 1763.
(2) T.J. Mulvany, ed., The Life of James Gandon…from materials collected and arranged by his son, James Gandon Esq. (1846), 67n.
(3) Knight of Glin, intoduction Malton's Dublin 1799 (reprint of A Picturesque and Descriptive View of Dublin, Dublin, 1978), x.
(4) Knight of Glin, op. cit., x-xi.
(5) E. McParland, James Gandon (1985), 195n7.
(6) McParland, op. cit., 179.
(7) See RHA Index, II, 254; these drawings were presented by Gandon's son to the RHA, see McParland, op. cit., 180.
(8) The drawing (perspective and plan), which is in the collection of Desmond Guinness is signed James Malton, Architectus & delt. 1792.
(9) Christie's Glenaulin sale catalogue, 29 & 30 Apr 1985, lots. 157,158(illus.).
(10) Acc. 96/19.

Author Title Date Details
Law, Andrew, & Bonar, Charlotte The Irish Prints of James Malton 1999 Neptune Gallery, Dublin, 1999. (Limited edition.)
Malton, James A Picturesque and descriptive view of the City of Dublin in a series of the most interesting scenes taken in the Year 1791 1799 Issued in 6 parts between 1792 and 1799 and in a single volume in 1799; reduced facsimile published Dublin, Dolmen Press, 1978 (with an introduction by the Knight of Glin); reduced colour facsimiles of plates published Portlaoise, Dolmen Press, 1981 (with an introduction by Maurice Craig);
Raftery, Patrick Joseph 'Who was Malton?' 1964 Dublin Historical Record 19, no. 4 (Sep 1964), 104-114.