This view of the Anglo-Norman town of Kilmallock with its picturesque ruins reflects the nineteenth-century fascination with antiquarianism and contemporary interest in landscape painting, previously regarded as an inferior art form.
Mulvany (1766-1838), a landscape and genre painter, employs the language of the classical landscape formulated principally by the French painter Claude Lorrain (1600-82) and adapts it to an Irish context by depicting medieval rather than classical ruins. In the middle ground, Kilmallock’s thirteenth-century landmarks can be seen with King John Castle in the distance and the collegiate church with its Pre Norman round over and the ruined Dominican priory, built outside the walled town to the far right.
The landscape is enlivened by the rural genre seen in the foreground. Following the tradition of Claude, Mulvany employs compositional devices, such as the bridge and the river, to lead the viewer from one horizontal plane o the next, all unified by the fine tree specimen dominating the foreground.
Mulvany painted in a similar style to that of his younger brother Thomas James, and the brothers rarely signed their work. Their landscapes, characterised by a smooth finish, soft pink tones and the inclusion of charming pastoral scenes, are particularly difficult to differentiate. Both of the brothers studied in Dublin Society schools and were nominated as founding members o fetch Royal Hibernian Academy where they are regular exhibitors.