Gandon, James (DNB00)

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GANDON, JAMES (1743–1823), architect, born in New Bond Street, London, on 29 Feb. 1742–3 at the house of his grandfather, a Huguenot refugee, was the only son of Peter Gandon, by his marriage with a Welsh lady named Wynne. He received a good classical and mathematical education and developed an early taste for drawing. His father having nearly ruined himself by a passion for alchemy, Gandon entered Shipley's drawing academy in St. Martin's Lane. In 1757 he was awarded a premium by the Society of Arts, and on the arrival of Sir William Chambers in London he became first a general assistant in his office, but afterwards his articled pupil. About 1765 he commenced business for himself, contributed to the Spring Gardens exhibitions in that and the succeeding years, and was chosen a member of the Free Society of Artists. In conjunction with John Woolfe, architect to the board of works, Gandon published a continuation of Colin Campbell's ‘Vitruvius Britannicus,’ 2 vols. fol. London, 1767–71, which contains (ii. 77–80) his design, obtained in competition, for the county hall and prison at Nottingham, erected in 1769–70, at a cost of 2,500l. In 1767 he exhibited at the Incorporated Society of Artists ‘a mausoleum to the memory of Handel, erected in the demesne of Sir Samuel Hillier in Staffordshire.’ On the foundation of the Royal Academy in 1768 he became a student, and won the first gold medal awarded in architecture (1769). In 1769 he obtained the third premium of thirty guineas for a design for the Royal Exchange, now the City Hall, Dublin (erected by T. Cooley); and in 1776 that of one hundred guineas for the New Bethlehem Hospital, London (erected by J. Lewis). Between 1774 and 1780 he exhibited drawings at the Royal Academy. After refusing a somewhat uncertain offer of court employment in Russia, he went to Dublin in 1781 to superintend the construction of the new docks, stores, and custom-house, the plans of which he had made in 1780 at the instance of Lord Carlow (afterwards Lord Portarlington). The building was completed in 1791. Gandon had to struggle against the nature of the ground and the armed opposition of the residents near the old custom-house. In 1784 he designed the united court-house and gaol for the city and county of Waterford, in 1785 the east portico and ornamented circular screen wall to the Parliament House in Dublin (since altered for the bank). Shortly afterwards the western screen and the Foster Place portico were added from his designs of 1786, under the superintendence of a Mr. Parke. On 3 March 1786 were laid the foundations of the Four Courts, Dublin, also from his designs. Part had been erected by T. Cooley in 1776–84. The courts were first used on 8 Nov. 1796; in 1798 the east wing of the offices was commenced; and in 1802 the screen, arcade, and wings of the offices were also completed by him. He was still harassed by an opposition which was carried into the Irish Parliament. He presented drawings for the Military Hospital in Phoenix Park (carried out under W. Gibson); in 1791-4 erected Carlisle Bridge; and on 1 Aug. 1795 laid the first stone of the King's Inns, Henrietta Street. In anticipation of the rebellion he removed to London in 1797, but returned in 1799 to finish the Inns of Court. About 1806 he defended himself in a vigorous letter against Lord-chancellor Redesdale, who had expressed dissatisfaction at the progress of the work. Resigning the control of the Inns of Court to his pupil, H. A. Baker, he retired in 1808 to Lucan, near Dublin, where he had bought, in 1805, an estate called Canon Brook. The improvements which he effected in planting are eulogised by contemporary writers (cf. Carlisle, Topographical Dict, of Ireland, s.v. 'Canon Brook'). He prepared plans for private residences and further improvements in Dublin architecture. None of the latter were carried out. The small library at Charlemont House, Dublin, is perhaps a work of 1782; the excise office in London, pulled down in 1854, sometimes attributed to him, is a work of W. Robinson. After many years' torture from gout he died on 24 Dec. 1823, and three days later was buried by his own desire in the same vault with his friend Francis Grose [q. v.] in the private chapel of Drumcondra, near Dublin. He was elected in 1791 an original honorary member of the Architects' Club in London, and in 1797 a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He was also one of the original members of the Royal Irish Academy. He etched several plates after landscapes by Richard Wilson, R. A. His essays 'On the Progress of Architecture in Ireland,' and 'Hints for erecting Testimonials' are printed in Thomas J. Mulvany's 'Life of James Gandon,' 8vo, Dublin, 1846, which was arranged by his only son, James Gandon, and gives his portrait.

[Mulvany's Life; Dict. of Architecture (Arch. Publ. Soc.), iii. 10-11; Webb's Compendium of Irish Biography, pp. 217, 584; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists, 1878, pp. 165-6; Gent. Mag. xciv. pt. i. 464; Builder, 1847, v. 1.]

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