Sculptor, stonecutter and builder, of London and Dublin. Simon Vierpyl's surname is a Dutch or Flemish one; his father's Christian name was probably John or Jan. According to Strickland he was born in London circa 1725, and studied sculpture under PETER SCHEEMAKERS . In 1748 he went to Rome, where he remained for nine years, chiefly employed in making copies of antique sculpture for Grand Tourists. In Italy he was patronized by a number of Irish travellers, most notably the fourth Viscount Charlemont and his tutor Edward Murphy. The latter gave him his largest commission, a set of terracotta copies of twenty-two statues and seventy-eight busts in the Capitoline Museum. Vierpyl, Charlemont and Murphy all figure in Joshua Reynolds's caricature group Parody of the School of Athens, which was painted in Rome in 1751 and is now in the National Gallery of Ireland.
It was Charlemont who invited Vierpyl to come to Ireland. Vierpyl left Venice in October 1756 so would probably have arrived in Dublin by the end of that year. At about the same time Charlemont commissioned WILLIAM CHAMBERS to supply designs for the Casino in the grounds of his house at Marino near Dublin. Vierpyl, who, like Charlemont, would have met Chambers in Rome, was placed in charge of their execution. In the third edition of his Treatise on the decorative part of civil architecture Chambers paid tribute his 'great neatness and taste' in carrying out the work. While the Casino was in progress, Vierpyl may also have acted for Chambers at Castletown, Co. Kildare. Harris believes that 'it must surely be assumed' that he would also have been clerk of works for the execution of Chambers's designs for Charlemont House, Dublin, from 1762 onwards.
After coming to Ireland, Vierpyl appears to have done relatively little purely sculptural work; he exhibited a 'Meleager'and a 'busto portrait' at the Society of Artists in Ireland in 1765, and there are three portrait busts by him in the library at Trinity College, Dublin. He was chiefly engaged in building-related activities, as stonecarver and mason, as clerk of works and as a speculative developer. Building projects in which he was involved as a carver or mason include St Thomas's Church, Marlborough Street (1758-62), the 'Orchestra' in the Rotunda Gardens (before 1763), the Royal Exchange (1769-1779), the Blue Coat School (from 1772), and Simpson's Hospital (1784-6). He was one of the craftsmen employed by Dublin Corporation; payments to him for unspecified work are recorded throughout the 1780s. From 1775, following the death of JOHN SMYTH , he supervised work on at the Poolbeg lighthouse and eastern abutment of the South Wall 'without the smallest gratuity or reward'. In 1781 he was appointed a valuator under the pipe water act, and he is probably the 'Mr Vierpyl' who is described as architect to the Paving Board in 1794. He was a representative of the Carpenters' Guild on the Common Council of Dublin between 1777 and 1780.
Almost from the beginning of his career in Ireland, Vierpyl was engaged in speculative building development in Dublin. He owned and developed plots in Parnell Square, Henry Street, Granby Row, Cullen's Place, William Street South, Bachelor's Walk and the North Wall. In 1784 when the Wide Streets Commissioners acquired his house in Bachelor's Walk and the property he owned next door to it in order to make way for the extension of Sackville Street to the river, he received compensation of £2,734.
Towards the end of his life, Vierpyl retired to Athy, Co. Kildare, where he died in February 1810 at the age of eighty-five. His will, in which he names CHARLES VIERPYL as his executor, is in the National Archives. Two marriages are recorded. His first wife, Frances Dickson, whom he married in December 1758, committed suicide in 1779. A few months later, on 30 August 1779, he married Mary Burroughs or Burrowes. By his first wife he had several children, including WILLIAM VIERPYL. His daughter Sophia (b.1772) was married to John Hill Farange.
Vierpyl's pupils included EDWARD SMYTH. A M ark Lardman was his foreman and clerk in 1775.
Addresses: Marlborough Street; Henry Street, 1765-1769; Jervas Quay, 1770-1773; 17 Bachelor's Walk, 1774-1798; 41 Bachelor's Walk, 1784; Bachelor's Walk, 1798; 1 Bachelor's Walk, 1806.
See WORKS and BIBLIOGRAPHY.
All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from W.G. Strickland, A Dictionary of Irish Artists (1913), II, 488-490, and Helen Byrne, 'Simon Vierpyl c.1725-1810), sculptor and stonemason', in Michael McCarthy, ed., Lord Charlemont and his Circle (2001), 177-194. In addition to appearing in Reynolds's caricature group,Parody of the School of Athens (see Cynthia O'Connor, 'The Parody of the School of Athens', BIGS 26 (1983), 5-22), Vierpyl is also believed to be one of the men in the group portrait by John Trotter in the King's Hospital, Palmerston, said to represent a meeting held in connection with the planning of the Blue Coat School; the figure thought to be Vierpyl is reproduced by Strickland , loc.cit., Pl. LXI.
He is named as 'Vierper di Giovanni' in the Venetian Inquisitori di Stato, for 4 Oct 1756; a painting of a father and daughter dated 1721 by a Jan Vierpyl (fl. 1697-1723) is in the National Gallery of Ireland.
For a detailed account of Vierpyl's years in Italy, see John Ingamells, ed., A Dictionary of British and Irish travellers in Italy 1701-180 (1997), 967-968.
See note 1, above.
William Chambers, A Treatise on the decorative part of civil architecture (3rd edn., 1791), 136.
John Harris, Sir William Chambers (1970), 101.
Harris, op.cit., 63n.
IALE, II, 737.
See CARD XIII, 200,257,335,444, XIV, 128.
CARD XII, 534; XIII, 22,99,156.
CARD XIII, 174; XIV, 306.
JHCI 16, xcx (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
Strickland, and CARD XIII, 156.
Information on Vierpyl as a speculative builder is from Helen Byrne's unpublished MA thesis, 'Simon Vierpyl (c.1725-1810): new light on his work in Ireland', Department of the History of Art, University College, Dublin, 1995, and Helen Byrne, 'The Speculative Building Activities of Simon Vierpyl', BIGS 37 (1995), 31-39, which see for further details.
Ref. T/5960. The will is dated 18 Dec 1807; a codicil was added on 10 Feb 1910. It was granted on 23 Feb 1810.
The births and deaths of several of his children, the burial of his first wife and of an otherwise unknown John Vierpyl (1745c-1780) are recorded in the registers of St Thomas's church, Dublin. See R. Refaussé, Register of the Parish of St Thomas, Dublin, 1750-1791 (1994), 9,28,30,31,37,45.51,57,90,92,98,102.
Wide Streets Commissioners Minutes, 24 Sep 1782 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
From Strickland, loc. cit., Refaussé, op. cit., and Wilson's Directory.
The numbers are given variously as 17 (1774-1798), 41 (1784) and 1 (1806).