James Malton, Architectural Draughtsman

(d. 1803)

Architectural Draughtsman

From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

Was son of Thomas Malton, senior (q.v.). He came to Ireland with his father, and was for nearly three years, during the building of the Custom House, employed as a draughtsman in the office of James Gandon, the architect; but for breaches of confidence and many irregularities he was dismissed. The first mention of his name as an artist occurs in 1790, when he sent, from Dublin, two drawings to the Society of Artists in London: a "View of Heywood, the seat of T. Trench in the Queen's County," and a "View of Castle Durrow, the seat of Lord Ashbrook." In 1791 he completed a series of drawings of Dublin buildings, from which the well-known set of views were engraved. Twenty-five were reproduced in etching and aquatint, done by Malton himself, and their publication began in 1792. As originally intended they were to be issued in four numbers of six views each, the price to subscribers to be a guinea and a half. This was, however, altered to six numbers with four views in each, at a guinea a number, and in this form they appeared. To non-subscribers the price was twenty-six shillings a number. The second number contained five plates, that of the "Interior of the College Library" being presented as an extra plate. The prints bear dates from 1792 to 1799 (with an exception noted on page 94).

The plates measure 12 ¼ by 17 inches, and the engraved surface about 10 ¼ by 15 inches. Each plate was accompanied by descriptive letter-press headed by a dedication and a vignette in aquatint done by the artist. On the completion of the issue of the work in numbers in 1799 Malton republished the whole in a bound volume—£6 16s. 6d. in boards, £7 17s. 6d. "elegantly bound," and 8s. with a portfolio or extra cover. The preface says: "The entire of the views were taken in 1791 by the author, who, being experienced in the drawing of architecture and perspective, has delineated every object with the utmost accuracy; the dimensions, too, of the structures described were taken by him from the originals, and may be depended upon for their correctness. Though all the views were taken in the year 1791, yet, as the work was in hand till the year 1797, such alterations as occurred in each subject between the taking and publishing of any view of it have been attended to; to the end that it might be as perfect a semblance as possible of the original at the time of the completion of the work." The volume has an engraved title-page: "A Picturesque and Descriptive View of the City of Dublin displayed in a Series of the most Interesting Scenes taken in the Year 1791; by James Malton, with a brief authentic History from the earliest accounts to the Present Time." Next follows an engraved dedication, dated "London, 1st June, 1794," "to the Lord Mayor, Sheriffs, Common Council, Freemen and Citizens of Dublin." The volume begins with a preface, followed by a "Brief History of Dublin," and an article "On the Castle Walls and Increase of the City." The plates, as issued in numbers, appeared in the order given on next page. In the bound volumes they are found in varying order, but, as intended by Malton, they should run in the order shown by the figures in brackets:

1. (1) Great Courtyard, Dublin Castle. July, 1792, Dedicated to the Earl of Westmoreland, Lord Lieutenant. Vignette, a Harp, with the Earl of Westmoreland's arms.

2. (11) Custom House, July, 1792. Dedicated to the Rt.Hon. John Beresford, chief Commissioner of Revenue. Vignette: shield with Beresford arms. This is the plate that was issued There is another wholly different and earlier plate, entitled "View of the New Custom House, Dublin," dated August 1st, 1790. In this the building is taken from a different point of view; and while in the 1792 print the west end of the building is shown, only a little of it appears in the 1790 print. The ship and boats on the river in the foreground are different in the two plates. Prints from the earlier plate are rare.

3. (5) Royal Exchange. July, 1792. Dedicated to the Master, Wardens, etc., of the Merchants' Guild of Holy Trinity. Vignette: shield with arms of the Merchants Guild.

4. (9). Leinster House. July, 1792, Dedicated to William Robert, Duke of Leinster. Vignette: shield with the Duke's arms, etc.

5. (13) Trinity College. March, 1793. Dedicated to the Provost, Fellows and Scholars. Vignette: arms of the College. This print occurs in another state, possibly a different plate, dated "March 1st, 1793." The aquatinting is much heavier; there is no smoke issuing from the chimneys as in the common form of the print, and the sky is more cloudy. In the ordinary form there are more lamps shown. The most striking difference is in the figures, etc., in the foreground. The ordinary form has a coach and pair on the left which is omitted in the other state and replaced by a horseman and a led horse.

6. (6) St. Patrick's Cathedral, 1st March, 1793. Dedicated to Robert Fowler, Archbishop of Dublin. Vignette: shield with the archiepiscopal arms.

7. (12) Tholsel. June, 1793. Dedicated to the Lord Mayor, etc., of Dublin. Vignette: shield with the City arms, the Lord Mayor's collar, etc.

8. (3) Charlemont House. June, 1793. Dedicated to James, Earl of Charlemont. Vignette: shield with his arms.

9. (2) College Library. July, 1793. Dedicated to Edmund Burke, M.P. Vignette: shield with arms of Burke impaling Nugent.

10. (25) Barracks. July, 1793. Dedicated to the Governors of the Barrack Board. Vignette: trophy of Drums and Muskets. This view appears in another form which at first sight appears to be the same plate cut down to 10 by 9 ½ inches. A close examination, by which some small differences will be seen, goes to show it to be probably a different plate. This smaller plate is dated 1795.

11. (7) The Parliament House. November, 1793. Dedicated to John Foster, Speaker, and the Members of the House of Commons. Vignette: emblems of the Commerce of Ireland, and a shield with Foster's arms. There is an earlier, and scarce, state of this print, dated 1st August, 1790, in which certain differences in the figures appear. In foreground to the left is a man driving two pigs; these were erased, and in the latter state another man, a different figure, was put in. Two ladies close by which appear in the earlier state do not appear in the later state.

12. (14) West Front of St. Patrick's Cathedral. November, 1793. Dedicated to Dr. Wm. Cradock, Dean of St. Patrick's. Vignette; shield with arms of Cradock.

13. (15) Provost's House. February, 1794. Dedicated to John Hely Hutchinson, Provost. Vignette: shield with quartered coat of Hutchinson and Hely.

14. (24) Old Soldiers Hospital, Kilmainham. February, 1794. Dedicated to General Cunninghame, Commander-in-Chief. Vignette: a Military Trophy, with medallion portrait of Charles II, arms of Duke of Ormonde and arms of Cunninghame.

15. (17) Royal Infirmary, Phoenix Park. July, 1794. Dedicated to the Commissioners of the Royal Military Infirmary. Vignette: a Phoenix.

16. (18) Powerscourt House. July, 1795. Dedicated to Richard Viscount Powerscourt. Vignette: shield with his arms.

17. (23) Lying-in Hospital. December, 1795. Dedicated to the Governors and Directors of the Hospital. Vignette: emblematic group of a woman and children.

18. (19) Rotunda and New Rooms. December, 1795. Same dedication.

19. (4) Marine School, Dublin, looking up the Liffey. June, 1796. Dedicated to the Governors and Directors of the Hibernian Marine School. Vignette: a ship, anchor and compass.

20. (8) St. Stephen's Green. June, 1796. Dedicated to the Rt. Hon. David La Touche and the Lords and Gentlemen inhabitants of St. Stephen's Green. Vignette: shield with arms of La Touche.

21. (16) View of Dublin from the Magazine, Phoenix Park. July, 1796. Dedicated to Henry Grattan, M.P. Vignette: shield with his arms. There is also a smaller plate, same size as No. 10.

22. (22) View from Capel Street, looking over Essex Bridge. February, 1797. Dedicated to the Commissioners for lighting and paving the City of Dublin. Vignette, emblematic of lighting and paving.

23. (20) St. Catherine's Church, Thomas Street. November, 1797. Dedicated to John, Earl of Meath and inhabitants of St. Catherine's Parish. Vignette: shield with Earl of Meath's arms.

24. (10) Blue-coat Hospital. March, 1798. Dedicated to the Governors and Trustees of the King's Hospital, the Blue-coat School. Vignette: figures of two boys with emblems of building and navigation. In this view Malton has shown the spire or cupola which was part of the original design but was never carried out.

25. (21) View of the Law Courts looking up the Liffey. March, 1799. Dedicated to the Lord Chancellor and the Lords and Barons of His Majesty's Courts of Law. Vignette: a figure of Justice.

Besides the above twenty-five views the bound volume contains the "Arms of Dublin," July, 1792, as frontispiece; "Survey of the City of Dublin as it stood in 1610," taken from Speed's Map; "Survey of the Bay of Dublin, 1795," and a folding map of Dublin, "surveyed for the use of the Divisional Justices," 1797. This map does not appear in all copies. At the end of the volume is a plate with two outline Keys—one of the smaller "View of Dublin from the Park," the other of the smaller view of the "Barracks." The plates were printed both in brown and black, and sets were issued coloured. Immediately after he had finished the drawings Malton left Dublin, and the engraving of the plates was done by him in London. All the plates are inscribed James Malton del. et fecit. He published them himself; in some his name is joined with George Cowen of Grafton Street, Dublin. A few impressions were struck off from the etched plates before aquatinting, and some of these Malton coloured by hand so as to make them practically water-colour drawings. Four examples are in the National Gallery of Ireland.

Malton's views are the most important series of engravings of Dublin. Most of the principal buildings are represented, and groups of figures and little scenes of the daily life of the people add a charm and variety; the whole forming a valuable pictorial record of old Dublin. The "Anthologia Hibernica" (Vol. II, p. 441) in noticing the second number, says: "The accuracy and execution of the whole merit every encouragement. Dublin never before appeared so respectable."

Malton's views were frequently copied. Several were reproduced as engravings, 8 ½ by 11 inches, in Warburton, Whitelaw and Walsh's "History of Dublin," 1818; and also by William Allen, 6 ¾ by 10 ¼ inches. W. M. Morrison issued a large lithographed copy of the "Provost's House," 19 ½ by 29 ¾ inches, entitled "Dublin in 1776." In this the names of various prominent personages are invented for the figures.

In 1792 Malton began to exhibit in the Royal Academy, and between that date and 1803 he showed fifty-one drawings of architectural subjects. Among these were seventeen Dublin views done in Indian ink and water-colour; most of them of the same subjects as his engravings. They were not, however, the original drawings from which the engravings were done; they are of larger size in most cases, and bear dates later than the prints, and the figures introduced vary considerably from those in the published views. These drawings, exhibited at the Academy, were:

1790. The Portico of the Parliament House, dated 1790. [John Mulhall, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin.] This is the original of the large engraving, 2o ½ by 25 ½ inches, published in 1795 at one guinea. The print is inscribed: "James Malton, delt, engraved by Wilson Lowry. Figures drawn by Robert Smirke, R.A. Engraved by Thomas Milton. To the Right Honourable John Foster, Speaker of the House of Commons, Ireland, This Print, a View of the Portico of the Senate House of Ireland, is, with permission, humbly dedicated by his most obedient servant James Malton, London. Published according to Act of Parliament by James Malton, December 1st, 1795." The figures in the print differ from those in the drawing. A similar drawing, but with the figures varied, signed and dated 1790, was sold at Christie's on 7th June, 1912, and is now in the National Gallery of Ireland.

1792. The New Portico to the House of Lords. [John Mulhall, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin.]

1793. The New Custom House.

1793. The Tholsel. 16 ¼ by 23 inches. [National Gallery of Ireland.]

1794. Lord Charlemont's Casino at Marino. 12 by 15 ½ inches. [National Gallery of Ireland.]

1795. Dublin from the Magazine.

1795. The Royal Exchange. [Messrs. Ellis and Smith, 16b Grafton Street, London, 1913.]

1795. Library of Trinity College.

1796. S.E. View of Royal Hospital, Kilmainham. [John Mulhall, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin.]

1796. N.W. View of St. Patrick's Cathedral. 23 by 16 ½ inches. [National Gallery of Ireland.]

1797. St. Stephen's Green.

1797. View up the Harbour from Ringsend.

1797. The West Front of Trinity College. 20 ½ by 30 inches. Ex. Burlington F. A. Club, 1884. [National Gallery of Ireland.]

1797. The Parliament House. [Messrs. Ellis and Smith, 16b Grafton Street, London, 1913.]

1799. The Law Courts.

1799. The Blue-coat Hospital.

1800. View from Capel Street looking over Essex Bridge to the Royal Exchange. [Victoria and Albert Museum.]

The following drawings were not exhibited:

St. Catherine's Church, Thomas Street. Dated 1797; 21 by 30 inches. [National Gallery of Ireland.]

The Provost's House. 10 1/8 by 14 5/8 inches. [British Museum.]

View looking up the Liffey, showing the Four Courts. Dated 1794. [Earl of Mayo, Palmerstown, Co. Kildare.]

St. Patrick's Cathedral. [Earl of Mayo, Palmerstown, Co. Kildare.]

St. Patrick's Cathedral. | Earl of Mayo, Palmerstown, Co. Kildare.]

Malton's architectural drawings are accurate and careful in draughtsmanship, the added colour just sufficient to give effect. In the drawing of the figures he had the assistance of other artists, P. Wheatley, R. Smirke and, perhaps, J. J. Barralet. The figures in the drawing of Trinity College, probably Wheatley's work, may be contrasted with those in the drawing of St. Patrick's Cathedral in the National Gallery of Ireland, poorly drawn, perhaps by Malton himself.

Besides his "Views of Dublin" Malton published in 1795 an "Essay on British Cottage Architecture"; in 1800 "The Young Painter's Mahlstick," a practical treatise on Perspective, and in 1802 "A Collection of Designs for Rural Retreats or Villas." A scarce aquatint, "Irish Peasantry, the Turf Footers," was published by him, without date. There is a bookplate of the "Earl of Charlemont" done by him in 1800.

Malton died of brain fever in Norton Street Marylebone, on 28th July, 1803.

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