Inner Hall

To walk from the entrance hall to the inner hall brings us into the 18th-century part of Iveagh House. The inner hall still owes its character to Richard Castle and before the alterations of 1866. it served the purpose for which it had been designed in 1736, that of an entrance hall.

Guinness' enlargement of the building made it an adjunct to the stairhall, but the 18th-century arrangement can readily be understood by visiting No.85 St Stephen's Green, designed by Castle two years after Bishop Clayton's house to a very similar plan. The inner hall at Iveagh House and the hall at No.85 also share common decorative features - a cornice with robust and simple modillions, and vigorously framed wall-panelling.

The semi-circular niches on either side of the chimney-piece are probably to Castle's design, though their frames would seem to date from 1866. They contain. on the left, a figure of Mercury, from the studio of Bertel Thorwaldsen, the Danish Neoclassical sculptor and, on the right, another exhibit from the 1865 exhibition, Modesty, by the Milanese sculptor Quintilio Corbellini.

The wooden chimney-piece is of great interest. Its upper half is 18th-century work, with a bas-relief panel depicting a scene of sacrifice, probably that described in the first book of the Iliad, The Achaeans offering a sacrifice of bulls and goats to Apollo. This can be associated with the two larger panels seen in the entrance hall. The frame of the panel is borrowed directly from a published design by William Kent, for a chimney-piece in the stone hall at Houghton Hall, Norfolk. The fire surround below the mantelshelf is a 19th-century neo-Palladian design, probably by J F Fuller, c.1880.

Against the wall facing the fireplace is the finest piece of sculpture in the Iveagh House collection, the reclining figure of a shepherd boy by John Hogan. Hogan, (1800-1858) was Ireland's greatest neo-Classical sculptor, a native of Cork who worked for many years in Rome. The Shepherd Boy is signed and dated 1846. Its Arcadian theme is depicted with remarkable and touching realism; the suggestion of weight in the reclining body is especially convincing.

This splendid work was formerly in the Ardilaun collection at St Anne's Clontarf. When a sale of the contents was held in 1939, Hogan's sculpture was purchased by Mr John Burke, a Dublin solicitor, who presented it to the nation. The two other sculptures in the room are a bust of Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness, executed in 1851 by the Irish sculptor Christopher Moore, and an unsigned mid-19th-century genre piece depicting a Roman youth. A wide opening flanked by ionic pilasters, created in 1866, connects the inner hall with the stairhall.

At the foot of the stairs stands another 19th-century genre sculpture, The reading Girl by the Milanese sculptor Pietro Magni, a purchase from the 1865 exhibition The garden wing of the house is entered from the stairhall. Here, an 18th-century cabinet-room survives, much altered, with an excellent grey marble chimney-piece in Richard Castle's style, which probably came from elsewhere in the house, and an attractive plaster frieze of the late 1760s.

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