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Dublin, unexecuted design for a pedestal for the Royal Exchange, 1770 (2)

Signed and dated

  • 1770


In 1763-65 Hugh Smithson, 12th Earl of Northumberland (created 1st Duke of Northumberland in 1766) was the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. During the last year of his term, Northumberland commissioned a gift for the people of Dublin to celebrate the accession of King George III three years earlier in 1760. John Van Nost III (d1780) was employed to produce a bronze statue of the King for the proposed Royal Exchange building, now the City Hall (constructed in 1769-79), and for this work Van Nost travelled to London for three sittings by the king.

Northumberland had been Adam’s patron at Syon since 1761, and was to commission designs from him for Alnwick Castle from 1769, and Northumberland House in 1770. It is likely, therefore, that Northumberland also commissioned Adam to make this design for the pedestal to Van Nost's sculpture of George III for the Royal Exchange in Dublin in 1770. The statue survives in the National Gallery of Ireland.

I am grateful to David J Griffin (Retired Director of the Irish Architectural Archive, Dublin) for the following information: a photograph published in The Graphic newspaper, 30 June 1906, shows the statue by Van Nost on a pedestal, square in plan, and in the Adam style. There are no known extant drawings for this design, and moreover, the pedestal is now lost. From the evidence of the photograph, the pedestal appears to have been made of white marble or Portland stone and stood about six feet in height.

A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index p. 9; D. King, The complete works of Robert & James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume II, p. 53; I. Roscoe, A biographical dictionary of sculptors in Brtain: 1660-1851, 2009, p. 921

Frances Sands, 2013



Digitisation of the Drawings Collection has been made possible through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation

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Contents of Dublin, unexecuted design for a pedestal for the Royal Exchange, 1770 (2)