The West Prospect of the Giants Causeway in the County of Antrim in the Kingdom of Ireland
Engraving1 May 1777
About the work
This is one of a pair of prints (see also GAC 1562), which became popular throughout Europe and were seen as landmarks of both Irish topography and scientific illustration. They played an important part in the debate over how the Causeway came into existence.
This engraving of the ‘West Prospect’ is dedicated to Alexander MacDonnell, fifth Earl of Antrim, the then owner of the Causeway, while that of the ‘East Prospect’ is dedicated to John Boyle, fifth Earl of Orrey, who helped with production costs.
The original gouache paintings on which these prints are based were made by artist Susanna Drury in 1739 and are now in the collection of Ulster Museum, Belfast. A similar pair of paintings of the Causeway by Drury was sold from the collection of Glin Castle, Limerick, through Christie’s in May 2009.
About the artist
Susanna Drury was the daughter of Lieutenant Thomas Drury. Her family is thought to have relocated from Norfolk to Dublin shortly before or after her birth. Her ‘View of London from One-Tree Hill, Greenwich Park’ (1733) suggests she lived for a time in London. In 1739, she spent three months living near the Giant’s Causeway and visiting it daily to work on painted views. The following year she submitted a pair of views of the Causeway to the Dublin Society exhibition and won the Society’s £25 premium. The works were engraved by the French landscape engraver Francois Vivares and the two prints became popular throughout Europe. Little is known of Drury’s later life, although she is thought to have married a man by the name of Warter.
Francois Vivares was born near Montpellier, France. He was apprenticed to a tailor but made drawings, etchings and engravings in his spare time. He moved to London, aged 18, to study under French engraver and draughtsman Jean-Baptiste-Claude Chatelain and later under Italian painter Jacopo Amigoni. By 1744 he was publishing prints. He opened a print shop near Leicester Fields (now Leicester Square), producing prints after his own work, that of his pupils and ‘of the best Masters’. He became one of the most renowned landscape engravers of his time and is particularly known for engravings after the works of French painter Claude Lorrain. In 1766, he became a member of the Incorporated Society of Artists. He died in London, aged 71.
- The West Prospect of the Giants Causeway in the County of Antrim in the Kingdom of Ireland
- 1 May 1777
- height: 41.00 cm, width: 67.00 cm
- Purchased from Colnaghi, April 1952
- Collection of Prince Loewenstein; Liechenstein Collection; with Colnaghi, London; from whom purchased by the Ministry of Works on 21 April 1952
- GAC number