Sir William Chambers style has been described as eclectic, which is probably apt for a man born in Sweden to Scottish parents, well traveled in India and China, who studied in Paris and Italy – where he met Lord Charlemont – and then became architect to the Prince of Wales and on his coronation to King George II.
Lord Charlemont, remembering his friend that he met on his grand tour, and needing an architect to remodel his estate, employed Chambers to re-design Marino House and, as was the style then, to design a casino (from the italian ‘Casa’ meaning little house) on the grounds.
Maltons “Charlemont House. June 1793”Pleased with this Chambers was requested to design Lord Charlemont’s town house. Finished in 1763 on the north side of Rutland Square it differed significantly from the buildings around it. Recessed in from the street with sides curving out in a welcoming embrace it lived up to Chambers eclectic reputation. Equally eclectic Chambers would never see this or any other Irish buildings he designed; his travels would never include a visit to Ireland.
When the Earl of Charlemont died in 1799 he left an estate in serious financial condition that required the 2nd and 3rd Earls to sell off much of it – including reportedly one of the finest private libraries in Europe. Charlemont house itself was sold to the government in 1870 to become the General Register and Census Offices for Ireland. However with independence the building was to take on a new brief. Beginning with rebuilding in 1929 Charlemont House opened in 1933 as the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art and later as the Hugh Lane Gallery with works by Manet, Monet, Renoir and Degas to name a few.
Hugh Lane Gallery, 2013