Thomas Kirk, Sculptor

(b.1781, d. 1845)


From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

Thomas Kirk, R.H.A. Photograph.

Was the only son of William Kirk, a native of Edinburgh who had settled in Newry, and after his marriage with Elizabeth Bible removed to Cork, where his son Thomas was born in 1781. After studying in the Dublin Society's Schools, where he won medals in 1797 and 1800, he obtained employment with Henry Darley, stone-cutter, for whom he did carvings for chimney-pieces. Starting for himself as a sculptor at 21 Jervis Street, he quickly gained recognition as a clever artist and was chosen to execute the colossal figure of Nelson for the memorial column in Sackville Street erected in 1808. The statue, of Portland stone, thirteen feet high, represents Nelson leaning on a capstan. For it the sculptor was paid £300, the material being supplied to him. His connection with this work brought Kirk many commissions for monumental work. In 1810 he exhibited for the first time, sending to the Society of Artists in Hawkins Street "Piety and Chastity," a monument to be erected to the Rev. T. A. Clarke; and he also exhibited in 1811, 1812, 1814, 1817, 1819 and 1821. He executed not only many important public monuments and statues, but was also much employed in portrait busts, which were esteemed for their accurate and expressive modelling, their delicate handling and distinctness of detail, and their faithfulness as likenesses. On the formation of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1823 Kirk was chosen one of the original Members, and he was afterwards a regular contributor to its exhibitions. He also exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1825, 1837 and 1839, in the latter year showing his last important work, a statue of "Sir Sidney Smith," commissioned by the Government for Greenwich Hospital. His "Orphan Girl" was at the Society of British Artists in 1832.

Kirk died in Dublin on the 19th April, 1845, and was buried at Mount Jerome. On his tomb is a life-sized female figure, the work of his son Joseph R. Kirk (q.v.). He was a man of simple manners, honourable and upright in all his dealings, and scrupulously exact and punctual in carrying out his contracts.

By his wife Eliza, daughter of Joseph Robinson, builder, of Golden Lane, whom he married in March, 1808, and who died in her eighty-first year on 25th February, 1869, he was the father of three sons, Joseph Robinson Kirk and William Boyton Kirk, who followed their father's profession and are separately noticed, and Francis Johnston Kirk, who entered the Church, was curate at Gorey, and in 1854 joined the Roman Catholic Church and died in London on 24th August, 1911. He had also four daughters, Mary Anne, Eliza, Margaret and Catherine. Of these, Mary Anne married a Mr. Stewart, and was mother of Thomas Kirk Stewart (q.v.), and died in Kansas City, U.S.A., on 29th January, 1897. Eliza, who was a sculptor, is separately noticed.


Thomas Abbott, LL.D. Monument. [Christ Church Cathedral.] A marble of an orphan girl weeping, standing by an urn. Erected by the citizens of Dublin in memory of his devoted services to the poor. Soc. B.A., 1832.

W. H. Archer, alderman. Marble bust. R.H.A., 1826.

Sir Samuel Auchmuty. Monument, with bust. [Christ Church Cathedral.]

Thomas Ball, Master in Chancery. Monument. [St. Patrick's Cathedral.] Erected by the Friendly Brothers of St. Patrick.

Rev. Charles Bardin. Bust. R.H.A., 1827.

Earl of Bective. Marble bust. R.H.A., 1826.

Countess of Bective. Marble bust. R.H.A., 1826.

Rev. Charles Boyton. Marble bust. Ex. Royal Arcade, 1821.

Rev. Charles Boyton. Bust. R.H.A., 1838.

Charles Burton, Justice of the King's Bench. Marble bust. Ex. Royal Arcade, 1821.

Du Pré, 2nd Earl of Caledon, K.P. Statue, erected on a column in the town of Caledon, Co. Tyrone. Model in R.H.A., 1841.

Nathaniel Callwell. Bust. R.H.A., 1832.

Richard Cane. Bust. R.H.A., 1830.

Lord Castlereagh. Marble bust.

Angelica Catalani. Marble bust. R.H.A., 1826 and 1835.

Hon. Mrs. Caulfeild. Bust. R.H.A., 1834.

Rev. T. A. Clarke. Monument, "Piety and Chastity," to his memory. Ex. 1810.

Colonel Clements. Bust. R.H.A., 1845.

Abraham Colles. [Royal College of Surgeons.] R.H.A., 1837.

James Corry. Marble bust. R.H.A., 1826.

Rev. G. W. Cotton. Monument. [St. Anne's Church, Dublin.]

John Wilson Croker. Marble bust. Ex. Hawkins Street, 1819.

John Wilson Croker. Marble bust. R.A., 1825. Sale of Peel collection at Robinson and Fisher's, 1900.

Miss Croker. Bust. R.A., 1825.

Colonel James Cuffe. Bust. R.H.A., 1829.

William Cuming, P.R.H.A. Bust. R.H.A., 1832.

Captain Dallas, son of General Sir George Dallas, Bart. R.H.A., 1831.

Edward Dalton. Marble bust. Ex. Royal Arcade, 1821.

Richard Dease. Posthumous bust. R.H.A., 1827.

Charles Dickinson, Bishop of Meath. Monument. [St. Anne's Church, Dublin.]

Arabella, Duchess of Dorset, widow of the 3rd Duke and wife of Charles, Lord Whitworth, Lord Lieutenant. Marble bust. Ex. Hawkins Street, 1819.

Captain Hastings Doyle. Bust. R.H.A., 1831.

W. H., 2nd Earl of Dunraven. Marble bust. Model in R.H.A., 1830.

Dr. Thomas Elrington. Bust. R.H.A., 1845.

Professor Gregory Von Feinagle. Marble bust. [Royal Dublin Society, Kildare Street.] Ex. Hawkins Street, 1819.

T. P. Filgate. Marble bust. R.H.A., 1829.

Thomas Findlay, barrister. Marble bust. R.H.A., 1827.

George III. Marble statue. [Bank of Ireland.] Executed by J. Bacon from a model by Kirk.

George IV. Marble statue. Erected by the merchants engaged inthe linen trade in Ireland to commemorate the King's visit to the Linen Hall on 23rd August, 1821. The model, half size, was in R.H.A., 1827.

George IV. Marble statue. [Royal Dublin Society, Kildare Street.] R.H.A., 1824.

George IV. Marble statue. [Bank of Ireland.] R.H.A., 1826.

George IV. Marble bust, from model taken during the King's visit to Ireland. R.H.A., 1831. Executed for the Marquess of Headfort; a replica was done for the Duke of Montrose for the Royal Archers' Society, Edinburgh.

George Gillichan, M.D. Monument. A tablet surmounted by a bas-relief of the Good Samaritan. Erected by the inhabitants of Dundalk and its vicinity.

William Gregory, Under Secretary. Marble bust. R.H.A., 1826.

Mrs. Elizabeth Grogan. Monument. [Rathaspeck churchyard, Co. Wexford.]

Sir William Hamilton. Bust. Model in R.H.A., 1831, to be executed in marble for Lord Dunraven.

Dr. Hanneman. Bust. R.H.A., 1827.

Lord George Hill. Marble bust. R.H.A., 1830 and 1842.

Edward Houghton, Hon. R.H.A. Marble bust. [Royal Hibernian Academy.] R.H.A., 1830. Presented by the sculptor to the R.H.A.

Arthur Hume. Bust. R.H.A., 1845.

Francis Johnston, P.R.H.A. Marble bust. [Royal Hibernian Academy.] R.H.A., 1827.

Mrs. Johnston. Marble bust. [Royal Hibernian Academy.] R.H.A., 1827.

Frederick Kalkbrenner. Marble bust. R.H.A., 1827.

Dr. J. Kirby. Marble bust. [Royal College of Surgeons.] R.H.A., 1834.

Samuel Kyle, Bishop of Cork. Bust. R.H.A., 1842.

Mrs. Lambart. Bust.

Bartholomew Lloyd, Provost, T.C.D. Marble bust. [Trinity College, Dublin.]

Bartholomew Lloyd. Replica of foregoing, [National Gallery of Ireland.]

Humphrey Lloyd, Provost, T.C.D. Bust. R.H.A., 1838.

Daniel McKay, Monument. [St, Anne's Church, Dublin.]

William Magan, Marble bust. R.H.A., 1827.

William Magee, Archbp. of Dublin. Bust. R.H.A., 1840.

Bertram Mitford. Bust. R.H.A., 1834.

Sir Capel Molyneux, Bart. Bust. R.H.A., 1834.

Thomas Moore. Bust. R.H.A., 1829 and 1831.

Thomas Moore. Bust; modelled in 1835. R.H.A., 1835 and 1836. One of these busts was presented to the R.I. Academy by Mrs. Moore.

Lord Nelson. Statue, 13 feet high. [On Pillar in Sackville Street.]

Lord Nelson. Marble bust. [Bank of Ireland.]

Lord Norbury. Model in R.H.A., 1835, from which several marble busts were done.

Hugh, 3rd Duke of Northumberland, Lord Lieutenant. Bust. R.H.A., 1831 and 1832; Dublin Ex., 1853.

Charlotte, Duchess of Northumberland. Bust. R.H.A., 1832.

General O'Malley. Colossal statue. [Castlebar.] Model in R.H.A., 1844.

Fleming O'Reilly. Marble bust. R.H.A., 1837.

Mrs. Fleming O'Reilly. Marble bust. R.H.A., 1837.

Myles O'Reilly, Bust. R.H.A., 1832.

Owen Phibbs. Bust. R.H.A., 1860.

Thomas Spring Rice, afterwards Lord Monteagle. Colossal statue. [Limerick.] Model in R.H.A., 1826.

Thomas Spring Rice. Marble bust, executed for Sir Aubrey de Vere Hunt, Bart. R.H.A., 1827.

Thomas Spring Rice. Bust. R.H.A., 1835. Model from which several marble busts were made.

Thomas Spring Rice. Miniature bust. R.H.A., 1835.

Sir Frederick Shaw, Recorder of Dublin. Marble bust. [Sir Frederick Shaw, Bart., Bushy Park, Terenure.] R.H.A., 1836 and 1840.

Sir Sidney Smith. Statue. [Greenwich Hospital.] Full-sized model in R.H.A., 1844. Marble in R.A., 1839.

Nathaniel Sneyd (shot in Westmoreland Street in 1833 by a maniac). Monument. [Christ Church Cathedral.] Erected by public subscription. The figure of the dying man is a fine piece of work, Kirk's masterpiece.

Dr. Spray, vicar choral. Monument, with bust. [St. Patrick's Cathedral.]

Sir John Stevenson. Bust. R.H.A., 1827.

Sir John Stevenson. Bust. R.H.A., 1840; perhaps that noted below.

Sir John Stevenson. Monument. [Christ Church Cathedral.] A bust on a pedestal, supported by a choir boy. There were originally two choir boys, but as the sculptor could not obtain payment for his work he took away one figure as a security.

Charles, Earl Talbot, Lord Lieutenant, Marble bust. R.H.A., 1827.

Countess Talbot. Marble bust. R.H.A., 1827.

Colonel Vereker. Marble bust. R.H.A., 1827.

Jane, wife of Rev. George Vernon, Rector of Carlow. Monument. [Carlow Church.]

Duke of Wellington. Statue, 8 ft. high. [Trim.] Plaster cast in R.H.A., 1829.

Matthew Young, Bishop of Clonfert. Marble bust. [Trinity College, Dublin.] R.H.A., 1828.

Eve. Design for a statue. R.H.A., 1842.

The Parting Glance. Alto-relievo in marble, in memory of Lady Rossmore. R.H.A., 1843.

The Soldier's Funeral. Alto-relievo in marble, in memory of the Hon. Thomas Charles Westenra, 3rd son of Lord Rossmore. R.H.A., 1843.

The Young Champion. Group in marble executed for Earl De Grey.

The Young Champion. Group in marble. R.H.A., 1843. Purchased by R.I. Art Union for £90. Ex. Dublin, 1872, by W. B. Smythe.

The Young Suppliant. Group in marble, executed for Earl De Grey. R.H.A., 1843.

Piety and Chastity.—See T. A. Clarke.

A Child Asleep upon a Greek Chair. Executed for W. Mageogh Bond. Model in R.H.A., 1826.

Boy catching a Butterfly. Executed for W. Mageogh Bond. Model in R.H.A., 1827.

The Attraction of Love. R.H.A., 1829.

Ariadne. Marble bust. [Lord Powerscourt.] Ex.1819. R.H.A., 1838.

The Young Dog-Stealer. Marble. Purchased by the R.I. Art Union in 1840, and won as a prize by Mr. Hamilton of Rostrevor. Fifteen casts were also given as prizes.

The Young Dog-Stealer. Marble. Replica of above. [Viscount Powerscourt.]

Hibernia, Mercury and Fidelity. Three statues. [On Pediment of General Post Office, Dublin.] Models, Ex. 1817.

Hibernia, Justice and Commerce. Three statues. [On Courthouse, Cork.]

Justice and Mercy. Two statues in Portland stone, 8 ft. high. [Courthouse, Londonderry.] Models, Ex. 1817.

Figure of a Sailor. 12 ft. high; cast in metal. Erected on a rock in the sea at the entrance to Sligo Harbour. Model exhibited in 1817 as "A British Tar, a sketch designed for a colossal statue, 12 ft. high, now executing for the Ballast Office Co. to stand on a dangerous rock in the sea near the harbour of Sligo as a beacon."

Figure of a Sailor. 14 ft. high; cast in metal. [Tramore Bay.]

The Robber's Cave. Bas-relief in marble. [Royal Dublin Society.]

Spanish Banditti. Bas-relief in marble. [Royal Dublin Society.]

The Orphan Girl.—See Abbott.

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