Finola O’Kane explores a remarkable album of drawings depicting the suburban demesne of Mount Merrion situated a few miles from Dublin. Part of his bequest to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, the drawings were commissioned in 1804 by the museum’s founder Viscount Fitzwilliam from his friend the landscape painter William Ashford (1746-1824), later to be the inaugural President of the Royal Hibernian Academy. This study by Finola O’Kane publishes the drawings and a series of related paintings for the first time in their entirety. It moves from an exploration of Mount Merrion’s history, architecture and landscape design to wider questions of the Fitzwilliam family’s medieval ancestry; the substantial reach of their Dublin estate; and their enthusiastic role in Dublin’s eighteenth-century property boom which in effect re-orientated the whole city to the east.
‘a powerful visual record and a poignant elegy for another lost demesne.’ (Kevin V. Mulligan, Irish Arts Review)