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Wednesday, 20th January 2021

Unique 1600’s views of Drogheda at National Gallery

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The Sunday Port Barbican, Drogheda Town Wall, County Louth by Francis Place (1647-1728). Photo © National Gallery of Ireland.

A visit to the National Gallery of Ireland (NGI) is always a treat, a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle for a while and to ponder the world as seen by the creators of the magnificent art on display.

Sadly, a visit to the gallery itself is out of the question for the time being due to the current health restrictions but there’s plenty happening on their website.

Of particular interest to art lovers, and indeed historians, in Drogheda is a collection of 19 rare drawings by Francis Place (1647–1728), who visited Ireland in 1698 and spent a year or so drawing unique scenes in Drogheda, Dublin, Kilkenny and Waterford.

Place’s views are the earliest known depictions of Drogheda, Dublin, Kilkenny, and Waterford within the national collection. This fine collection of early drawings, offering a glimpse of late seventeenth-century Ireland, was purchased almost 50 years ago through the Gallery’s Shaw fund. 

Francis Place – Biography

Born in Dunsdale, Durham, Francis Place (1647-1728) was a gentleman engraver. He was also the only topographical draughtsman of importance working in Britain between Wenceslaus Hollar (1606-1677) and early eighteenth-century artists such as Paul Sandby (1761-1809) and J.R. Cozens (1752-1797).

He visited Ireland in 1698/9 and made the sketchbooks in ink, graphite and watercolour from which these pictures come. Arriving at the port of Drogheda, he travelled down the coast sketching notable views, before sailing from Waterford in 1699.

Drogheda from the West, with Saint Mary's Abbey. Ink, watercolour and wash on paper - Francis Place (1647-1728) - Photo © National Gallery of Ireland.

His detailed views, displaying extreme delicacy in the use of line, offer a comprehensive record of his visit. Full of topographical interest and artistic merit, Place’s meticulous panoramas will encourage the viewer to investigate what has changed or else stayed the same over time.

Place’s work can be found in collections in: Arbroath, Bedford, Cambridge, Cardiff, Glasgow, Hull, York, Leeds, and London (The BM and The V&A).

The Gallery’s collection of Place drawingscan be viewed free of charge in the Gallery’s online collection

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