A bronze life-size statue of George III as a Roman Emperor. Made by John van Nost the younger, this work was commissioned in 1765 by Hugh Percy, first Duke of Northumberland who for the two previous years had served as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He paid van Nost 700 guineas for the work which was originally placed in the centre of the rotunda of the Royal Exchange (now City Hall) when that building, designed by Thomas Cooley, was completed in 1779. The statue was moved to one side of the space in 1864 (to make way for John Hogan’s statue of Daniel O’Connell) and then taken out altogether and put into storage in 1945. In 1988 it found a new home – in the car park of the Point Theatre on the north quays – before finally being offered on long-term loan by Dublin City Council in 1996 to the National Gallery of Ireland where it has remained ever since. The piece is significant for two reasons, the first being that other such work by van Nost, his statues of George II that once stood in both Dublin and Cork, has long since been destroyed. In addition it appears to be a true likeness of George III since the sculptor, on receiving the commission, went to London to make a model of the king from life. Readers can decide for themselves whether or not Thackeray was correct to describe the work as ‘a pert statue of George III in a Roman toga simpering and turning out his toes.’
Often seen, seldom noticed: the lead statues above rusticated granite gateways flanking the Bedford Tower in Dublin Castle’s Upper Yard. Designed by John van Nost the Younger (d.1780) and dating from 1753, they represent Justice and Fortitude: the former, as was often noted by wags in the past, resolutely turns her back on the city. Both have all the sinuosity and swagger of the rococo era, Fortitude in particular might have stepped straight out of a Tiepolo canvas. They are especially precious as the only remaining examples of van Nost’s public art (other work, such as the equestrian statue of George II that once stood in the centre of St Stephen’s Green, having long since been blown up or removed).