Simon Vierpyl, Sculptor

(b. about 1725, d. 1810)


From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

Simon Vierpyl. From Group painted by John Trotter; in the Blue-coat School, Dublin.

Was born in London about 1725, and studied under Peter Scheemakers, the sculptor. About 1750 he was in Rome and was employed by James, 1st Earl of Charlemont, in taking copies of antique statues and other works, including "The Gladiator," in marble, and busts in bronze of "Brutus," "Pompey" and "Caesar." For the Rev. Edward Murphy, Lord Charlemont's tutor and travelling companion, he modelled twenty-two statues and seventy-eight busts of Roman Emperors, etc., from the original antiques in the Capitoline Museum. These were done in terra-cotta and were completed and sent to Ireland in 1755. Murphy eventually gave them to Lord Charlemont, who had them in his library in Charlemont House, Rutland Square. In 1868 the busts were presented by James, 3rd Earl of Charlemont, to the Royal Irish Academy, where they now are. Of these works, Vierpyl, writing to Murphy, 15th August, 1774, says: "Your happy and, I believe, singular thought of getting the whole original series copied, and this by one artist only, has never before nor to this day been executed by any sculptor except me. So that your imperial series is the only one of the kind now in the world, which gives it an immense additional value, especially as it is probable in the highest degree that an equal series will never again be made; for I am certain that no eminent artist will hereafter stand four years, winter and summer (as I have done) in the chilling Capitoline Museum to model so many busts and statues with his own hand, except he be tempted with such a reward as none but a monarch, or other man of vast superfluous wealth, can conveniently pay." As to the value and importance of the series, he goes on to say: "Who can say what money they would bring if offered to the highest bidder of the monarchs of Europe, in the greatest royal Museum of which they would cut the first figure. . . . . . If any monarch or other great personage did me the honour of an offer to employ me to model such another series and so many statues with my own hands in the Capitoline Museum, I would not take less than five hundred a year for ever."

Early in the year 1756 Vierpyl left Rome for Ireland, to undertake further work for Lord Charlemont. He established himself at first in Marlborough Street, whence he moved to Henry Street, and in 1770 settled at No. 41 (now No. 2) Bachelor's Walk. Lord Charlemont employed him in the decoration of the Casino at Marino, designed by Sir William Chambers; and he executed, from Cipriani's design, the beautiful entrance gateway with its dragons. He did the ornamental stone-carving at the Blue-coat School and St. Thomas's church in Marlborough Street; and also, in conjunction with Morgan (q.v.), that at the Royal Exchange. He was mostly employed in carving of this kind, doing but little statuary work of importance. In the library of Trinity College are busts by him of "Dr. Baldwin" and "Dr. Claudius Gilbert," done in 1758. The "Gentleman's Magazine," 1758, says of the bust of Gilbert that it, "for expression and elegance, does great honour to the taste and skill of the statuary." Vierpyl's only contributions to exhibitions were a "Meleager" and a "Portrait Bust," which he sent to the Society of Artists in George's Lane in 1765. He was a member of the Common Council of Dublin for the Guild of Carpenters from 1777 to 1780. In his latter years he retired from his profession and resided in Athy where he died, at the age of 85, on 16th February, 1810.

Vierpyl married on the 26th December, 1758, at St. Andrew's church, Frances Dickson, "niece to the Rev. Dr. Henry, of Kildare Street, a most agreeable young lady, with a considerable fortune and every other qualification which can render that state happy" ("Sleator's Public Gazetteer," 30th December, 1758). She met her death by throwing herself out of a window in the house in Bachelor's Walk. Vierpyl married secondly, on 30th August, 1779, at St. Andrew's church, Mary Burrowes. By his first wife he had, besides other children, two sons, William and Charles, and a daughter Sophia, who married at St. Mary's church, on 19th November, 1792, John Hill Farange. The sons were brought up as sculptors. WILLIAM VIERPYL appears to have gone to London, and he exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1792, 1793 and 1795. CHARLES VIERPYL was working as a sculptor in Dublin at 15 North Earl Street, from 1778 to 1781.

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