Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Smyth, Edward

SMYTH, EDWARD (1749–1812), sculptor, born in co. Meath in 1749, was son of a stonecutter who went to Dublin about 1750. The younger Smyth was apprenticed to Simon Vierpyl (whose name is sometimes incorrectly given as Verpyle), a sculptor, of Bachelor's Walk, Dublin, and was afterwards employed in mantelpiece work by Henry Darley, a master stonecutter. Here he attracted the notice of James Gandon [q. v.], who engaged him to execute the sculpture for the custom-house, then in course of erection. Gandon thought Smyth the best artist Ireland had produced, and considered his talent remarkable in one who had never been out of the country. Smyth executed, besides nearly all the figures on the custom-house, the statues of Justice, Wisdom, and Liberty, over the eastern portico of the Irish parliament-house, and later on the figures over the southern portico of the building. As early as 1772 he exhibited in Dublin a model of the statue of Dr. Charles Lucas [q. v.], now in the Royal Exchange of that city, and among his other works were the statues of Faith, Hope, and Charity in the Castle chapel, and the busts of the four evangelists for the same building, the bas-reliefs over the entrance to the Four Courts, and all the sculptures on the Inns of Court. He also executed the statue of St. Andrew on the portico of St. Andrew's Church in Dublin, and the heads on the keystones of the arches of Carlisle (now O'Connell) Bridge. His wax models of figures personifying the twelve most important rivers of Ireland were exhibited in 1800–2, and won high praise. They are now in the possession of the Royal Hibernian Academy. Smyth died in 1812. A portrait of him by an anonymous artist was sold at the Whaley sale in Dublin, 1848.

Of Edward Smyth's many children John Smyth (1775?–1854?), sculptor, born in Dublin about 1775, studied under his father. Many of his works in Dublin have merit, particularly the statues of Hibernia, Mercury, and Fidelity over the portico of the General Post Office (1817); the statues of Æsculapius, Minerva, and Hygeia on the Royal College of Surgeons (the royal arms of which were also sculptured by him); and the monument of George Ogle (1742–1814) [q. v.] in St. Patrick's Cathedral. He also designed the monument of Archbishop Arthur Smythe in that edifice, and executed some of the sculptural work in the south transept, and two busts by him of Irish surgeons are in the Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin. John Smyth was an associate of the Royal Hibernian Academy, and died about 1834.

[Gilbert's Hist. of Dublin; Mulvany's Life of Gandon; Pasquin's Artists of Ireland; Dublin Monthly Mag. for 1842; Dublin Directories, 1760–1834; Cat. of Exhibitions of Pictures in Dublin (deposited in Royal Hibernian Academy and Royal Irish Academy).]

D. J. O'D.