Arts & Crafts in Early Georgian Ireland


From the Irish Georgian Society; quarterly bulletin, July-December 1980. Article by J.H.Andrews.

27¾ x 36, signed. From Adam's | Bonhams Sale Catalogue; 5 Dec 2006. Lot 108

From A History of the Royal Cork Yacht Club, by Alicia St.Leger, 2005

250 year anniversary print.

The article by J.H.Andrews devotes considerable space to the various editions of the map of Dublin, above, by Charles Brooking, which first appeared in 1728, published by Bowles, and was then pirated by Overton and Hoole in 1729. See here.

Andrews mentions a Richard Brooking and a William Brooking, both recorded as residents in Restoration Dublin. He also notes that Charles Brooking's name was wrongly given as Thomas Brooking in a grant for cartographic work, dated January 1729.

The researches of Commander Joel into the background of the marine painter, Charles Brooking jnr, merit close attention. An uninformative and, in my view, casually condescending remark by Edward Edwards, 1808, namely that Brooking "was bred in some department of the dockyard at Deptford", has been repeated ad nauseam in reference books and auction catalogues for many years. These repetitions take no account of the increasing volume of background details on the activities of the painter's father, Charles Brooking senior, that have been available for several years now.

modern copy

A quite detailed picture of the life of Charles Brooking senior is now provided in David Joel's book. The family had had a substantial estate in Plymouth. Brooking senior was born in Plymouth in about 1677. He was made a Freeman of the City of Plymouth in 1711. He married twice, and both wives died young. His second wife died in 1724, apparently soon after giving birth to Charles Brooking junior.

In 1715 Brooking was described as "the painter from Plymouth", and it is clear that he was employed not only for simple work, but also for figure painting and lettering. The skills required of a professional English painter at this period were broad and multiple, and encompassed all forms of decoration.

The "painter from Plymouth" was employed on the decorations of the Parish Church of Linkinhorn, 16 miles north-west of Plymouth; but evidence for his activities two or three years earlier is provided by the bills he submitted to John Rudyerd, or Rudyard, in connection with the decoration of the Eddystone lighthouse, which replaced Winstanley's pioneering construction, lost in the Great Storm of 1703. Rudyerd's light was completed in 1709, but finishing touches were obviously being applied for the next couple of years. Scan, left, from Eddystone: The Finger of Light, by Mike Palmer, 1998/2005.

In 1718, however, Charles Brooking senior went bankrupt. The bankruptcy proceedings began in Plymouth, and dragged on until 1722 in the Guildhall, London. It appears that he had settled his debts, and then moved temporarily to Dublin. His map of Dublin was first published by Bowles in 1728.

Ireland, at least in Dublin and Cork, was a hive of development during this period, and offered opportunities for a variety of craftsmen. Marine painters associated with Cork included Willem van der Hagen, possibly Johann van der Hagen, father-in-law of Cornelius van de Velde, and perhaps Cornelius himself.

Brooking also received payments for carpentry and building work at Trinity College, Dublin, in 1724 and 1725. By 1729 he was working as a decorator at Greenwich Hospital. He was criticized for poor workmanship at the end of 1729, on the marbling of the columns in Thornhill's Painted Hall. In 1732 he took apprentices, one being his son Charles --- though only 9 years old. The last known date of his involvement at Greenwich is 1736. He died on 27 November, 1738. This fits perfectly with the date conjectured elsewhere when Charles Brooking junior , aged 15, could have started work as an assistant in Monamy's studio. The links cry out to be made.

From Clerics & Connoisseurs, ed Alastair Laing, 2001

Left: van de Velde. Right: Monamy.

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