Landscape with Carriage and Horses

Description:

The identity of the scene is uncertain. The painting was purchased as being a view of Howth Castle, near Dublin; this is incorrect. An almost identical version of the work, dated 1781, is at Carton, Co. Kildare. Entitled `A Carriage passing Frascati` (1), it is said to show the gates of Frascati House, Blackrock, Co. Dublin but this too is unlikely. As most of Ashford`s work was straightforwardly topographical, however, the scene probably represents an actual place, perhaps the family seat of the passengers in the carriage.The painting verges on the picturesque, in the trees, brook and glowing sunlit sky. Born in Birmingham, Ashford moved to Ireland in 1764, to work for the Ordnance Office in Dublin and appears to have been self-taught as an artist. He began exhibiting landscapes in 1772 and became in time Ireland’s foremost exponent of the genre, being elected first President of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1823 – a signal honour for a landscape painter. Most of his works were topographical views of country seats and well-ordered parks for the nobility and gentry and he rarely painted untamed nature. Despite his long residence in Ireland, his landscapes retain a distinctly English air, a characteristic clearly discernible in Landscape with Carriage and Horses.