Monday 4 March 2024

Hewetson (Part 33) The Monument to Dr Balwin at Trinity College, Dublin erected in 1784


The Monument to Dr Balwin at Trinity College, Dublin 

erected by Irish sculptor Edward Smyth in 1784.

There are no good photographs of this monument on line.

Low resolution image supposedly by Tofanelli showing Hewetson.


see - Esdaile, K.A. "Christopher Hewetson and his monument to Dr. Baldwin in Trinity College, Dublin", Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (December 1947): 134-135.

Here transcribed from the article by Katherine Esdaile.

A Copy of Whitaker's History of Whalley, which once belonged to B. H. Beaumont (who supplied Whitaker with some of his information) proved to contain various loose notes about Christopher Hewetson, as well as a long passage relating to that sculptor's life and his important monument to Provost Baldwin1 in Trinity College, Dublin.

The relevant entries were courteously communicated by the owner of the volume in question, and as that dealing with the Baldwin Monument has a special interest for Dublin, publication in Ireland (prior to inclusion in a forthcoming Dictionary of British Sculptors) seemed advisable.

In this particular entry Beaumont is clearly quoting an MS. of Hewetson's own written in 1793 and as accounts by an 18th century sculptor of one of his own works are exceedingly rare, it seems worth while to give it verbatim et literatim. It occurs in Book VI page 49 of the above mentioned work,

"Description of Dr. Baldwin's Monument, by Christopher Hewetson, the artist, who made it.?10th April, 1793.

" The Marbles of which the monument are composed are as follows. The figures are Carrara Statuary Marble. The Base of the whole is that called here [in Italy] Africano and is only to be had now by cutting up fragments of ancient architecture. 

The sarcophagus of a marble found at Porto Venere near Genova and goes by that name in Italy. The tablet for the inscription is called here Pietro Paragone, but is, I believe, ill-named. As yet no inscription has been put on this tablet or panel, but it was my direction that it should be cut in the stone and gilt, the better to harmonize with the yellow veins in the Porto Venere (golden vein called in England) and with the gilt-bronze ornaments placed on the sarcophagus.

" The Piramid is of the Red Oriental Granit and makes a much better ground for the white figures than any other hitherto used for that purpose. N.B. I was the first who applied Granit to this use.

" The subject of the monument is this: Dr. Baldwin having presided for many years over the College of Dublin as Provost, having during that time contributed towards the advancement of the salary by a strict attention to the duties of his charge, and likewise on his Death having left to the University £80,000 for the purpose of founding Professorships, I chose tomrepresent Dr. Baldwin as near his end, his Will dropping from his hand whilst with the other [hand] and the expression of his head I endeavoured to shew a reconciliation to Divine Will communicated to him by an angel.

" This figure I have represented as if just descended and stepping towards [him] holding on high, in the left hand a crown composed of a branch of Olive and of a Palm Branch, whilst with his right hand, and stooping forward, he points to the crown, as a promise to the dying man of a reward of his virtues.

" The third figure in this group is that of a Muse, the Simbol of Science, supporting her Benefactor and lamenting the near approach of his end."

So far very little has been known of Hewetson. According to Strickland (Dictionary of Irish Artists Dublin, 18913. he was the son of Christopher Hewetson of Kilkenny, born about 1739, and of such exceptional artistic abilities that he was sent by his friends to study in Rome where he stayed for the rest of his life. 

But apart from stating that he received £1,000 for executing the Baldwin monument in Rome c.1771-82, that it cost £416 to transport, and arrived in Dublin in 1784,

Strickland only mentions two other works?busts sent to the Academy Exhibitions in 1786 and 1790? and is uncertain of the year of death. Consequently even Beaumont's other casual notes are valuable. For instance, his reference to a bust of Prince Augustus (George Ill's son, the Duke of Sussex) and his dating of it to 1794, forms an addition to the very scanty list of Hewetson's known works. Again, about the commission (perhaps never executed) from the notorious Bishop, Earl of Bristol for " a colossal portrait of Mr. Pitt in marble," he relates that Hewetson, having just unsatisfactory engravings to go by, only undertook it " for the love of Bread and Cheese." 

Finally, Hewetson, says Beaumont, " died in 1798, partly of age and partly through anxiety caused by the French ravages in Italy, by which he suffered, absent from his native country 33 or 34 years. Buried near the tomb of Caivs Sestivs."

"It will be found that these passages and my own investigations?e.g., about busts of the Duke of Cumberland, Charles Towneley and lost busts of Thomas Westfaling and of Gavin Hamilton? add much to the information collected by Strickland. Certainly Hewetson was an accomplished artist and fully deserved the praises of his fellow-artists in Rome".

Katherine Esdaile

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