Crawford Art Gallerypermanent collection

View of Cork
View of Cork from Audley Place
Irish School
Oil on canvas
72.5 x 120cm

Cat. No. 299-P

Presented by McCarthy family 2005

Dating from the later half of the eighteenth century, this painting shows a panoramic view of Cork city, as seen from an elevated position to the north of the River Lee. In the centre is the Old Custom House built in 1724 (now the Crawford Art Gallery). To the left of the Custom House can be seen the masts of ships moored alongside King's Quay. This quay was subsequently filled in and is now Emmet Place. Other prominent landmarks are visible in the painting, including the distinctive square spire of St Ann's, Shandon, probably the best known Cork church. The quays are lined with Dutch-style houses, most of which have now disappeared, but which point to the close trading links which existed between Cork and Amsterdam at the time. On the left can be seen one of the many waterways and rivers that bisected the marshy land over which the city of Cork expanded in the eighteenth century. that chanel has also been coverd over in the intervening years, although its serpentine course through the city is faithfully echoed today in the wide curves of Cork's main thoroughfare, Patrick Street.

Butts panorama show a prosperous and expanding city, at a time when Cork played a key role in developing Anglo-Dutch mercantile influences in the North Atlantic. The Dutch appearance of Cork's quayside houses was echoed in New York, Albany and other towns of the New Netherlands. However, the transfer and control of these American colonies to the British in 1664 would lead to the gradual loss of this distinctive character and its replacement by a more specifically English style of architecture during the Georgian period. So also in Cork, where today none of these early gable-fronted houses survive, this painting is an important record of the city's history.

John Butts

Irish School