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Work of the Week | 11 April 2022

CAG.3179 Robert Lowe Stopford, Panoramic View of Queenstown, 1877, watercolour, 97 x 41 cm. Presented, Port of Cork, 2021 (Port of Cork Collection).

To mark the 110th anniversary of Titanic dropping anchor at Cork Harbour, we’re turning our attention to its last port of call with this WORK OF THE WEEK!

Panoramic View of Queenstown (1877) by Robert Lowe Stopford hails from the recently donated Port of Cork Collection and offers a detailed visual account of the harbour town and busy shipping.

From 1849 until 1920, Cobh (or Cove) was known as Queenstown, having been renamed following a visit by Queen Victoria. It is from here that, on 11 April 1912, the final passengers embarked or disembarked on RMS Titanic and its ill-fated maiden voyage, including photographer Fr Francis Browne.

A curious feature of Stopford’s panoramic view from 1877, however, is the artist’s rendering of St Colman’s Cathedral (centre). Although designed in 1867 by Edward Welby Pugin and George Coppinger Ashlin, the Gothic Revival structure was still under construction when Stopford came to make his watercolour a decade later. It would be another forty years before the spire – the highest in Ireland – was to be completed and the cathedral consecrated!

Amounting to what we might term an artist’s impression in an otherwise topographically accurate image, this panorama of the town’s waterfront is filled with interest. The former offices of the White Star Line – owners of Titanic – can be discerned near the centre of the composition. St Mary’s Church (1812), now demolished, forms part of the skyline on the right.

Noted for his marine views and landscapes, Robert Lowe Stopford (1813-1898) was art correspondent in the south of Ireland for The Illustrated London News. He resided in Cork Harbour at 2 De Vesci Terrace, Monkstown.

Panoramic View of Queenstown (1877) by Robert Lowe Stopford is featured in THE PORT OF CORK COLLECTION until 28 August.

Our Maritime Paintings of Cork 1700-2000 catalogue is now priced at €10. Read a related article in the Spring 2022 issue of Irish Arts Review.

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