Primary Resources

This resource gallery has been developed to be used for pre visit preparatory work and for post visit reference. You will find a range of primary documents and material here that links to the themes in each unit. By clicking on any image below you can access background information on the source and also find out where it came from and where it is currently held.

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Detail of doves on the drawing room ceiling


The ceiling decoration in this room was carried out in the style of two noted French architects and designers Charles Percier and Pierre Fontaine.  Percier and Fontaine were among the founders and principal promoters of the neoclassic Empire style and they incorporated elements of antiquity into their designs. The elegant painted and stencilled decoration in the drawing room was carried out by the Dublin firm of Sibthorpe in the 1890s.

Motifs and symbols often have many meanings and this seems to be the case in the drawing room. As well as nobility and power, the laurel also symbolises peace -  as do the dove motifs. We can see both of these on the drawing room ceiling.  Doves are also associated with inspiration and pairs of doves symbolise love and constancy. The bow, arrows and quiver also represent Cupid, Apollo and Diana the Huntress – all classical allusions. The drawing room was a principle reception room used for reading poetry, dancing, music conversation and other entertainments.

The symbols in the decoration indicate that the Smith Barrys wanted to present the visitor with an impression of a house full of music and harmony. Music has long been associated with love and the inclusion of musical instruments and roses – the flower of Venus - in the plasterwork and musical putti also allude to romance and these themes are complimented by the French style decoration in this room.

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