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Work of the Week | 29 May 2023

CAG.2602 Thomas Chambers, Panoramic View of Cork, 1750, engraving on paper, 18 x 64 cm. Purchased, 2004.


Panoramic View of Cork (1750) is an engraving by Thomas Chambers that offers a topographically accurate depiction of the southern city. It includes a legend of 32 principle locations, from The Exchange and Red Abbey to Skiddy’s Castle and Shandon.

Viewed from a location close to present-day Bell’s Field – much like John Butts’ contemporaneous View of Cork from Audley Place (c.1750) – the centre of the city unfolds between the channels of the River Lee.

Close to the middle of the composition is the old Custom House (10) in a very busy part of the urban landscape with tall masted vessels berthed alongside. A range of stores and cranes, and a dock to assist in the work of the Revenue department, flank the building which is now home to Crawford Art Gallery.

At the time, Cork sat in the centre of a web of global exports and imports. Its motto of Statio Bene Fida Carinis (a safe harbour for ships) attests to its status as one of the largest natural harbours in the world.

Fun fact: Based on a drawing by Anthony Chearnley of Burnt Court (Burncourt), County Tipperary, Chambers’ engraving featured as a fold-out illustration in Charles Smith’s book The Ancient and Present State of the County and City of Cork. A dedication at the base of the print reads:

‘To the R[igh]t Worshipfull [sic] the MAYOR SHERIFFS and COMMON COUNCIL of the City of CORK / This View of that City from the North is Inscribed by their most Devoted humble Serv[an]t

Ch. Smith.’

Panoramic View of Cork (1750) by Thomas Chambers is currently featured in SITE OF CHANGE: Evolution of a Building.

The Arts House: Conor Tallon chats with curator Michael Waldron about a work from the Collection every Sunday morning on Cork’s 96FM and C103 Cork. You can listen back to this week’s chat here:


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