In a series of the most Interesting Scenes taken in the year 1791. By James Malton. With a brief authentic history from the earliest accounts to the present time. Engraved titlepage and dedication, Arms of Dublin, A Correct Survey of Dublin as it stood in the year 1610, A Correct Survey of the Bay of Dublin 1795, and twenty-five plates of views. London: 1803. Oblong folio. pp. ii, 18, , 26 (plates), 2 (maps), 3 (engraved title, dedication and coat of arms). Recent half red morocco on green buckram boards, title in gilt direct on spine. Ex libris Milltown Park with label and stamp. Occasional light foxing and traces of mild water staining to prelims. A very good set of this exceedingly rare topographical work.
James Malton (d.1803) architectural draughtsman, came to Ireland with his father, Thomas Malton, senior, and was for nearly three years, during the building of the Custom House, employed as a draughtsman in the office of James Gandon, the architect, but for breaches of confidence and many irregularities he was dismissed. The first mention of his name as an artist occurs in 1790, when he sent, from Dublin, two drawings to the Society of Artists in London. In 1791 he completed a series of drawings of Dublin buildings, from which the well-known set of views were engraved. Twenty-five were reproduced in etching and aquatint, done by Malton himself, and their publication began in 1792. The preface says: “The entire of the views were taken in 1791 by the author, who, being experienced in the drawing of architecture and perspective, has delineated every object with the utmost accuracy; the dimensions, too, of the structures described were taken by him from the originals, and may be depended upon for their correctness.” Though all the views were taken in the year 1791, yet, as the work was in hand till the year 1797, such alterations as occurred in each subject between the taking and publishing of any view of it have been attended to; to the end that it might be as perfect a semblance as possible of the original at the time of the completion of the work.
The volume has an engraved title-page, an engraved dedication, dated at London, 1st June, 1794, “to the Lord Mayor, Sheriffs, Common Council, Freemen and Citizens of Dublin.” The work begins with a preface, followed by a brief history of Dublin, and an article “On the Castle Walls and Increase of the City.” The plates are as follows: Great Courtyard, Dublin Castle; The Parliament House; Trinity College; College Library; Provost’s House; St. Patrick’s Cathedral; West Front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral; Royal Exchange; Custom House; View of the Law Courts, looking up the Liffey; Tholsel; Old Soldiers Hospital, Kilmainham; Royal Infirmary, Phoenix Park; Blue Coat Hospital; Lying-in Hospital; Rotunda New Rooms; St. Catharine’s Church; Marine School; Leinster House; Charlemont House; Powerscourt House; View of Capel Street, looking over Essex Bridge; St. Stephen’s Green; Barracks; View of Dublin from the Magazine, Phoenix Park. Dedicated to the Governors and Directors of the Hospital, including the College Library, dedicated to Edmund Burke. Besides the above twenty-five views the bound volume contains the Arms of Dublin, as frontispiece; Survey of the City of Dublin as it stood in 1610, taken from Speed’s Map; Survey of the Bay of Dublin, 1795, and a folding map of Dublin that does not appear in this or most copies. At the end of the volume is a plate with two outline Keys – one of the smaller View of Dublin from the Park, the other of the smaller view of the Barracks. All the plates are inscribed James Malton del. et fecit. He published them himself; in some his name is joined with George Cowen of Grafton Street, Dublin. Malton’s views are the most important series of engravings of Dublin. Most of the principal buildings are represented, and groups of figures and little scenes of the daily life of the people add a charm and variety, the whole forming a valuable pictorial record of old Dublin at the close of the eighteenth century.