Artist(s) : John Carr (Draughtsman), Thomas Medland (Engraver)

View of the Four Courts across the River Liffey, before the dome had acquired its verdigris patina. On the near quay, the scene features a sidecar, or jaunting car, with driver and two elegantly dressed female passengers, and people strolling in the street or gazing at the river. The river traffic consists of three rowing boats and one small masted boat. The opposite quay, in front of the Four Courts, is relatively thronged with pedestrians and carriages, most notably a coach-and-four with outriders. A multi-arched bridge spans the river below the Four Courts.

Inscribed in Image

  • Signature – Drawn by J Carr Esq.re / Engraved by T. Medland Engraver to H. R. H. the Prince of Wales
  • Caption outside of boundaries of image – Dublin / Published June 4 1806 by R. Phillips. No. 6, New Bridge Street, Black fryars

Image Details

Genre Townscape
Technique Aquatints
Subject(s) Architecture, Cities and towns
Geographical Location
  • Four Courts, Dublin - Named locality
  • Dublin - Town or city
  • Dublin - County
  • Leinster - Province
Keywords(s) Boats, Bridges, Buildings, Carriages & coaches, Coach drivers, Copper, Government facilities, Hats, Headgear, Horses, Houses, Men, Passengers, People, Rivers, Sculpture, Soldiers, Women
Colour Coloured
Dimensions 40.8 cm x 21.2 cm
Published / created 1806

Bibliographical Details

Travel Account The stranger in Ireland
Print or manuscript Print
Location of image in copy frontispiece
Source copy National Library of Ireland LO 2699 Dir. Off.
Rights Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

Related text from travel account

Upon my return to Dublin, Michaelmas term had just commenced, and afforded me an opportunity of visiting the courts of law. The building which contains them is truly superb. A sketch of it forms the frontispiece of the book, taken from an eminence on Merchant's Quay. I will venture to affirm that Justice has not such a temple in any other country. In contains the King's Bench, Common Pleas, and Exchequer. The first stone of this magnificent edifice was laid on the 3d of March 1786, by the Duke of Rutland, then Viceroy of Ireland, and the design was made and executed by Mr. Gandon, who, I forgot to mention, was a pupil of Sir William Chambers, and to whose genius and taste I have before felt great pleasure in attempting to do justice. The entire front extends four hundred and thirty-two feet, and its depth is one hundred and fifty-five. The courts, which are in the centre, occupy a space of one hundred and forty feet, advance to the street, and are equal to the front of the wings of the offices containing the records, which form a quadrangle on each side, and are connected with the centre by arcades, under which there are private doors for the judges to pass into their respective courts. The plan, as // remarkable for its novelty as well as elegance, affords, from the disposition of its parts, an easy communication with each of the courts, which are extremely well lighted, and are sufficiently spacious for the purposes of hearing and ventilation. In the front you ascend by a flight of steps under a portico, supported by six columns of the Corinthian order, thirty-six feet high, and enter a vestibule decorated with Ionic columns, leading to the great hall, which is sixty-four feet diameter, and seventy-six feet high to the inner dome, forming a general communication to the Four Courts, and its contiguous departments. This area at first conveyed to my mind the idea of an imperial Roman bath from which the water had been emptied. In this place the counsel, solicitors, and clients parade, previous to the suits in which they are concerned coming on. On each side of the courts are two galleries, one for juries, the other for spectators. These galleries are ascended to by stairs from the courts, and lead to the jury rooms, by which the juries are prevented from having any communication with the public; a very necessary caution, which is not practised in England. The great hall cannot fail of impressing the spectator with the extent of its dimensions, and the elegance of its // decorations. There are four openings in it, which form entrances to the courts, consisting of a couple of columns in the thickness of the wall; instead of noisy doors, double green curtains are used. There are also similar spaces, with columns, partly enclosed by doors, leading to different apartments, communicating with the judges' rooms, which are octangular. Besides these entrances, there are eight piers with niches, which piers and the columns are finished by a composite entablature, over which there is an attic, decorated with four bas relievos, consisting of the following subjects: King Alfred establishing the trial by jury. – Henry II. granting the charter to the Irish. – Magna Charta signed by King John, and the abolition of the Brehon law. From this rises a lofty dome, in which are the windows that light the hall. Between these windows are eight colossal emblematic figures, in bas relievo, of the different Virtues, with their appropriate emblems. From the heads of these figures springs an antique running foliage round the dome. Over every window are large medallions of the heads of the most celebrated legislators; the whole forming a beautiful and appropriate combination. The remaining part of the cove is finished with antique lozenges, up to a large opening at the top of the dome, which is surrounded by a circular iron-rail. The front has a commanding appearance on the Inns Quay, hut is seen to most advantage from the opposite // side of the river: it is constructed of white grey stone, a species of white granite. Over the portico is a pediment with statues. The entablature of the sides is finished by a balustrade, on which are sitting figures. Over the angles of the building is shewn as much of the drum of the dome as forms a pleasing and well-proportioned basement, to shew the superstructure to the greatest advantage, which is composed of a long cylinder, surrounded by detached Corinthian columns twenty-five feet high. Between these columns are alternate niches and windows. The columns are finished with an entablature, with two plinths, from which springs the dome, covered with copper. A skreen rusticated arcade, in which are great gates of communication to the quadrangular courts and offices, connect the basement of the wings of the offices, which complete the facade. This magnificent building cost ninety-five thousand pounds. If there were a noble bridge from the opposite side to this building, the effect would be very grand and finished: it was not the fault of the architect that it is so closely upon a line with the street. Some disputes respecting the ground behind prevented it from receding more: still it is not so objectionably placed as the front of Somerset-house towards the Strand. // To the architectural description already given of the internal construction of the courts I have nothing to add, but that nothing can be more elegant. Perhaps the jury-boxes are too much elevated for the counsel to address the jury with ease. [pp. 464-468]