Very Mannered

The 18th century English polymath Thomas Wright has featured here before because of his rightly-renowned work at Tollymore, County Down (Do the Wright Thing « The Irish Aesthete ), but it is apparent that while in Ireland during the year 1746-47, he also designed a number of other garden buildings elsewhere in the country. One of these is a rustic archway at Belvedere, County Westmeath, which would have been constructed around the same time as the villa here and so commissioned by Robert Rochfort, then Baron Belfield and future first Earl of Belvedere. This extraordinary structure is almost Mannerist in style and, as has been pointed out, would not look out of place in the 16th century Sacro Bosco of Bomarzo: the openings on the facade suggest a giant’s startled face. The arch stands at the end of a long drive from the house and although sometimes thought to have been an entrance lodge, this seems unlikely since its rear – which visitors would have encountered first had it served as a point of arrival to the estate – is unornamented. Clearly therefore the building was meant to close a vista and, since it once held several floors, to offer views back to the main residence and across Lough Ennell: note the wonderful rusticated oriel window on an upper level. 

One comment on “Very Mannered

  1. Deborah T. Sena says:

    Love the last picture, the building shapes against the tree branches are stunning. Can’t wait to see where you go next! As always, thanks for covering all of Ireland.

    But, with the understanding that the focus of this website is preserving gems of architecture and heritage, I cannot separate Belvedere from its notorious personal story. I now have an even deeper understanding of what happened there having gone through ONLY 2 years of COVID isolation from family and friends. From a USA perspective (no way you would need/have known this) very ironic you posted it in March since we dedicate the month of March to Women’s History (and equality).

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