Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

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That’s interesting about the Ormond Quay house.

I don’t want to re-ignite this dispute, but where a gabled house, like the Ormond Quay examples, appears in a late 18th century print, as they do in many of the Malton views that include stretches of streetscape, we have to ask ourselves; what was the original design of it’s neighbours, if not also gabled?

I think that we have to face the fact that the vast majority of the streetscapes of Dublin, for at least the first half of the 18th century, comprised a pretty coherent townscape of predominantly curvilinear ‘Dutch Billy’ gabled houses.

This is a conjectural reconstruction of the north side of College Green about 1750, based on the evidence provided by the Tudor view and the two 1782 paintings together with the various maps, principally Rocque.

OK, there’s an element of guesswork where the 18th century drawings and paintings don’t provide enough detail, or are a bit contradictory, but the gist of this reconstruction is probably about right.

Yes, this streetscape is less elabotate than the Amsterdam streetscape depicted in the Keisergracht drawing posted earlier, but there is a fair degree of ‘coherence’ here.

One interesting thing is the way that the streetscape effortlessly accommodated Pearse’s Parliament House, or more correctly, the way that Pearse designed the Parliament House to integrate into the streetscape, with the the great arched and pedimented entrances roughly equating to the scale of the typical adjacent townhouse. This is Palladian public architecture in perfect harmony with gabled street-architecture, is it not?

I think that the evidence would suggest that Pearse was completely comfortable with this relationship and there’s even an argument that that curious drawing [with the dodgy perspective and inaccurate details at parapet level] which Craig and McParland have decided must be a somewhat fanciful mid-18th century depiction of College Green is, instead, exactly what it says it is: a drawing, by Pearse, of his proposed design for the new Parliament house in a context that anticipated some adjacent rebuildings.

Who else would have been so concerned to tidy up the context of the new building by moving the low, ramshackled, immediate neighbours aside and sliding into their place the smart, well proportioned, standard ‘Billys’ that were probably already in-situ a couple of doors down?

It should also be noted that there’s not much wrong with the perspective of the old front range of Trinity and even the boundary wall and railings to Trinity appear very accurately drawn [matches Brooking]. The only really dodgy perspective is actually in the depiction of the Parliament House itself which may well be because this building wasn’t actually there yet and therefore wasn’t being drawn from sight.

As an architect’s sketch representation, possibly for client consumption, the clients being the members of the Irish Parliament who were paying for this project, a drawing like this would have been perfectly acceptable and I suspect the slight failures of perspective would have gone entirely unnoticed.

The suggestion of moving the King Billy equestrian statue up to a central position, may well have been a live proposal at the time.

I do like the idea that Ireland’s Palladian poster boy both drew and designing his ultimate masterpiece in a touched-up ‘Dutch Billy context 🙂

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