The Bay of Dublin from the South-East

The Bay of Dublin from the South-East



Francis Wheatley, R.A. (1747-1801)
The Bay of Dublin from the South-East

Signed lower left: F Wheatley 1779
Pen and grey ink and watercolour over pencil
43.2 by 65.4 cm., 17 by 25 ¾ in.

With Walker's Galleries, London, 1936;
Anonymous sale, Duke's, Dorchester, 15
th April 2010, lot 56

By Thomas Malton as an aquatint, 1785 as The Bay of Dublin

The present largescale, highly finished watercolour was produced shortly after Wheatley's arrival in Dublin, where he had moved to escape his creditors in London. He fled London accompanied by the wife of the watercolour painter J A Gresse and the two lived together as a married couple, until the truth was discovered and Wheatley had to leave Dublin. He returned to England in 1783.

Despite his somewhat turbulent personal life, he established a reputation as a portrait, genre and landscape painter of note, in both oils and watercolours. He enrolled at Shipley's Academy in London in 1762 and then entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1769. He exhibited regularly at the Free Society of Artists and at the Royal Academy, where he was admitted an Academician in 1791. Perhaps his best known body of work, was the series of 12 paintings of 'Cries of London', which he produced between 1792 and 1795 and which were widely disseminated through engravings.

Dublin Bay itself was widely admired, in November 1761, George Montague writing to Horace Walpole, equated the bay in beauty to that of Naples and Richard Twiss, writring in 1775, described 'the entrace into the harbour of Dublin is one of the most beautiful in Europe'. (Richard Twiss,
A Tour in Ireland in 1775, 1776, ed. Rachen Finnegan, 2008, p. 6). Traditionally most depictions of the bay were from the west, but by the 1770s, other aspects began to be explored, partly due to the building of the Great South Wall, constructed in order to improve navigation around the dangerous sandbanks flanking the mouth of the River Liffey.