Joseph Robinson Kirk, Sculptor

(b. 1821, d. 1894)


From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

Joseph Robinson Kirk, R.H.A. Photograph.

Was born in 1821, the fifth child and eldest son of Thomas Kirk (q.v.) and his wife Eliza Robinson. He entered Trinity College, Dublin, in 1838, at the age of 17, and took his degree in 1843. He had, while still a boy, commenced the study of sculpture in his father's studio, and in 1840 he sent two busts to the Royal Hibernian Academy. From that year he was an almost constant exhibitor at the Academy's annual exhibitions. In 1843, the year in which he took his degree, he obtained the second prize of five pounds from the Royal Irish Art Union for his "Andromeda," a study from the life figure, and was commissioned to execute it in marble. With the money thus earned he was enabled to spend a year studying in Rome. His "Child listening to noise in a Shell" exhibited in the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1845; his "Ruth and Naomi," 1846, and his "Creation of the Dimple," 1847, were all purchased by the Royal Irish Art Union as prizes for its subscribers. In June, 1852, he succeeded Panormo (q.v.) as Master of the Dublin Society's Modelling School; but after a tenure of two years his appointment ceased on the reorganization of the school in 1854. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Hibernian Academy on 22nd May, 1845, and Member on 13th October, 1854.

During his long career as a sculptor Kirk executed not only a great number of portrait busts, but also many important public statues and monuments. At Banbridge is his colossal statue of "Captain Crozier," the Arctic explorer; at Hillsborough and Edenderry are his statues of "Arthur, 3rd Marquess of Downshire"; in Christchurch Cathedral a monument to "the Hon. C. D. Lindsay, Bishop of Kildare," and in Trinity College the four figures of "Divinity," " Law," "Medicine" and "Science" on the Campanile. The extraordinary memorial to Sir Philip Crampton in Brunswick Street was a work of which he is said to have been proud. On the base of the Wellington Monument in the Phoenix Park is a bronze bas-relief of "The Siege of Seringapatam," and several busts by him are in the Royal College of Surgeons. He exhibited eight pieces of sculpture in the Royal Academy between 1845 and 1862. For some years before his death his health prevented him from actively pursuing his profession and he lived in retirement. He died on the 30th August, 1894, at his residence, Milward Terrace, Bray, aged 73, and was buried at Mount Jerome. He married in 1845 Jane Rachel Murray, who still survives him. Works:

Himself. Bust. R.H.A., 1849.

A. O'Bryen Bellingham. Marble bust. [Royal College of Surgeons.] R.H.A., 1859.

Vice-Admiral Sir Josias Coghill, Bart. Tablet with coat of arms and naval trophy. [Drumcondra Church.]

Sir Philip Crampton. Marble bust. [Royal College of Surgeons.] R.H.A., 1859,

Sir Philip Crampton. Memorial Fountain, in bronze and marble, at the junction of College Street, Great Brunswick Street and D'Olier Street. This grotesque production, of which the sculptor appears to have been proud, consists of a stone base with three drinking fountains, surmounted by a pyramidal design of various aquatic plants. At the base are two swans; and a bust of Crampton peeps out of the foliage. It has been aptly described as resembling an overgrown lettuce. The memorial was unveiled in April, 1862. The bust was in the R.H.A., in 1862.

Captain Crozier, R.N. Colossal statue in Portland stone. [Banbridge, County Down.] R.H.A., 1862.

Captain Crozier. Marble tablet. [Banbridge Church.]

J. W. Cusack. Marble bust, posthumous. [Royal College of Surgeons.] R.H.A., 1862.

Arthur, 3rd Marquess of Downshire. Bust. R.H.A., 1846.

Arthur, 3rd Marquess of Downshire. Statue. [Edenderry.] Model in R.H.A., 1846.

Arthur, 3rd Marquess of Downshire. Statue in Portland stone on a column. [Hillsborough, Co. Down.] Model in R.H.A., 1849.

James, 13th Lord Dunboyne. Bust. R.H.A., 1851. Dublin Ex., 1853.

Rev. Charles Elrington. Bust. R.H.A., 1851.

Arthur Guinness. Marble bust. [Lord Iveagh.]

Edward Hayes, R.H.A. Bust. R.H.A., 1862.

Arthur Jacob, M.D. Bust. R.H.A., 1864.

W. B. Kirk, sculptor. Bust. R.H.A., 1849.

Louisa Augusta, Lady Langford. Marble bust. R.H.A., 1854. Ex. Dublin, 1861. [Captain Conolly, Castletown.]

Hon. Charles Lindsay, Bishop of Kildare. Monument. [Christ Church Cathedral.] Model in R.H.A., 1847.

Sir Leopold McClintock. Marble bust. [Royal Dublin Society.] R.H.A., 1862 and 1864.

Wills Hill Macready. Bust. R.H.A, 1853.

Elias Mackey, Vicar of Dundalk. Bust. R.H.A., 1849.

William Magee, Archbp. of Dublin. Bust. Dublin Ex., 1853.

Sir Henry Marsh. Marble bust. [Royal College of Surgeons.]

Sir Henry Marsh, Monument. [Mount Jerome Cemetery.] The profile head was in R.H.A., 1862.

John, Viscount Masserene and Ferrard. Monument in Caen stone. Dublin Ex., 1865.

John Mitchell. Miniature bust. From a sketch made in Green Street Courthouse in 1848. R.H.A., 1848.

Rev. Thomas Moffett. Marble bust. [Athlone Church.] R.H.A., 1848.

Sir Michael O'Loghlen. Bust. R.H.A., 1853.

Sir Michael O'Loghlen. Statue. Model in R.H.A., 1851.

Hon. H. Pakenham, Dean of St. Patrick's. Bust. R.H.A., 1848.

W. H. Porter. Marble bust, posthumous. [Royal College of Surgeons.] R.H.A., 1862.

Mervyn, 7th Viscount Powerscourt. Marble medallion. R.H.A., 1868.

Julia, Viscountess Powerscourt. Bust. Dublin Ex., 1872.

Major H. C. Sirr. Bust, posthumous. R.H.A., 1841.

Thomas A., 4th Viscount Southwell. Bust. Dublin Ex., 1872.

Charlotte, Viscountess Southwell. Bust. Dublin Ex., 1872.

Rev. Dr. Todd, F.T.C.D. Marble bust. [Trinity College, Dublin.] R.H.A., 1852.

Children of John Vance, M.P.—"The Sisters." Marble group. Lent by J. Vance to Dublin Society's Ex., 1858.

Samuel Warren, Alderman. Tomb. [Mount Jerome Cemetery.] A granite obelisk with figures in the four corners of the base. The figure of "Religion" was in R.H.A., 1851.

R. Carlisle Williams, M.D. Marble bust. [Royal College of Surgeons.]

Infant son of B. Watkins Williams Wynn. Marble bust. R.A., 1855.

Divinity, Law, Medicine and Science. Four colossal statues on the Campanile, Trinity College. Commissioned by the Primate, Lord John G. Beresford, in 1849. Sketch models in R.H.A., 1854.

St. Peter/St. Patrick. Statues in Portland stone, 10 feet high. Two of the three statues on the front of St. Paul's Church, Arran Quay. Sketch model in R.H.A., 1870. The other statue, that of St. Paul, was by C. Panormo (q.v.).

Female figure, life-size, over the tomb of the sculptor's father. [Mount Jerome Cemetery.]

The Siege of Seringapatam. Bronze bas-relief; panel on base of the Wellington Monument. [Phoenix Park.] Sketch in R.H.A., 1860.

Marble Monument. [Military Chapel, Corfu.] Portion in R.H.A., 1848.

Military Trophy. In stone. [Over west gateway of the Parliament House.]

Sappho. Marble statue. [Lord Gough.]

Sappho. Marble statue. [Lord Iveagh.] Done for Sir B. L. Guinness.

Andromeda. The model obtained 2nd prize from R.I. Art Union in 1843, and was executed in marble and purchased for £70. Won as a prize by Mrs. Maunsell, Ballymore, Westmeath. R.H.A., 1844.

The Young Bird-catcher. R.H.A., 1844.

The Creation of a Dimple. Marble group. R.H.A., 1846, unfinished; and R.H.A., 1847. Purchased by the R.I. Art Union for £100, and won as a prize by Henry Stuart, Dame Street, Dublin.

Child listening to a noise in a shell. R.H.A., 1845. Purchased by R.I. Art Union. Ex. Dublin, 1873, by Gregory Kane.

Bottom and Titania. Marble. R.H.A., 1849.

Olivia. Marble statuette. R.A., 1849.

Cassandra. Marble statuette. R.H.A., 1848. A £20 prize in the Shilling Art Union, 1860; won by John Leonard, Paris.

Ruth and Naomi. Marble group. R.H.A., 1846. Purchased by R.I. Art Union for £8o, and won as a prize by W. Hall, Warrington.

The Pastoral Age. Marble. R.H.A., 1851.

The Visit to the Tomb. Marble bas-relief. R.H.A., 1852.

Children and Dog. Marble group. R.A., 1856.

Children at Play. Marble group. R.H.A., 1854.

St. John and the Virgin. Marble group. R.A., 1862.

Model in wax of the Gold Fibula, designed by F. W. Burton and presented to Miss Helen Faucit. R.H.A., 1846.

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