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Portrait of a ‘Lady Lucy North, 1st Countess of Guilford’ Oil on Canvas by Charles Jervas

Portrait of a ‘Lady Lucy North, 1st Countess of Guilford’ Oil on Canvas by Charles Jervas

By Charles Jervas


circa 1734

Charles Jervas (or Jarvis), Portrait Painter - Irish Artists (b. about 1675, d. 1739)
Portrait Painter From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913 Was son of John Jervas, of Clonliske, in the parish of Shinrone, King's County, by his wife Elizabeth, daughter of John Baldwin of Shinrone, and was born about 1765. In the letters of administration granted by the Prerogative Court of Dublin on the 7th February, 1697-8, of the goods of his father, who died at Cape May in America, he is described as "Charles Jervas of the city of Dublin, gent." He had four brothers, John of Clonliske and Corralanty, King's County; Martin, of Pennsylvania; Matthew and Trevor, and two sisters, Lucy and Mary. Early in life by the mid 1690’s he went to London where he stayed and trained with Sir Godfrey Kneller as a pupil and assistant for about a year. He was patronized by Norris, the Keeper of the King's pictures, and was permitted to copy at Hampton Court. Some small copies of Raphael's cartoons, which he made there, he sold to Dr. Clarke of Oxford, who, with other friends, enabled him to go to Italy. There he applied himself to the study of art, especially of drawing in which he was hitherto deficient. Between 1698 and 1708 he studied in Paris and Rome, and acted as an agent for British Art Collectors. In 1709 he returned to England and set up a successful portrait studio. With the help of his patron, Prime Minister Robert Walpole, Jervas secured the post of King’s Painter. In this capacity he painted King George II, Queen Caroline, and Prince William, Duke of Cumberland. He soon obtained the patronage of fashionable society, his style taking the fancy of the moment. Two court beauties, painted as "Chloe" and "Clarissa," were noticed by Steele in "The Tatler" (15th April, 1709) as the work of "the last great painter Italy has sent us, Mr. Jervas." He married a widow with a fortune, had a house at Hampton, and was enabled to entertain his friends, among whom he numbered many of the literary celebrities of the day—Pope, Addison, Swift, Arbuthnot, Warburton and others, whose portraits he painted. Swift sat to him in London in 1709, and again in Dublin in 1716. To Pope, whom he painted several times, he gave lessons in painting for about a year and a half, and received from the poet a complimentary epistle praising his art in extravagant terms. Gay, in his congratulatory poem to Pope, mentions him: "Thee, Jarvis hails, robust and debonnair." About the end of 1715 Jarvis paid a visit to Ireland, and remained there till December, 1716. During his sojourn in his native country he painted a number of portraits, including one of Swift and one of Thomas Parnell, the poet, painted for Pope. Perhaps on account of the demands made on his time by the painter, Swift avoided Jervas's company. In a letter to Archdeacon Walls, 4th October, 1716, he writes: "Do you hear anything of Jervas going; for I hate to be in town while he is there"; and he was relieved when Jervas left Ireland; "My service to friend Jervas," he writes to Walls; "I heartily wish him a good voyage." Jervas was again in Ireland a few years later, returning to England in September, 1751; and, as appears from a letter from Knightly Chetwode to Swift (10th September, 1729) he was in Ireland once more in 1729. His association with literary society and his natural vanity induced him to adventure into literature himself, and he made a translation of "Don Quixote," to which his friend Warburton contributed a prefatory history of chivalry and romance. The work was not, however, published until 1742, after his death. In 1738, his health breaking down, he revisited Italy, but remained for only a short time. On his return to London he took up his residence in his brother-in-law's house, in Cleveland Court. There he died on the 2nd November, 1739. By his will, dated 2nd September, 1738, and proved 3rd December, 1739, he left his wife Penelope his portraits of relations and friends done by him, and desired that his collection of pictures, drawings, ivory basso-relievos of Fiammingo, Urbino ware and prints should be publicly sold. This collection, which seems to have been a very large one, the drawings alone comprising 2,275 lots, was sold, part in March, 1740, and the remainder in April, 1747, after his widow's death, the sales occupying many days. A small portrait of the painter himself, engraved by Vander Gucht, formed the frontispiece to the catalogue. Extravagantly praised in his own day Jervas's art was afterwards as unduly depreciated. Reynolds, when asked by his sister how it was that pictures by Jervas were never met with, replied, "because they are all up in the garret"; and Walpole describes them as wretched daubings. But many of his works, such as the "Duchess of Queensberry" in the National Portrait Gallery, have considerable merit and show that his art was by no means so contemptible as it became the fashion to consider it. His drawing, indeed, is indifferent; "Ach, mine Gott!" exclaimed Kneller, when Jervas set up a coach and horses, "if the horses do not draw better than he does he will never get to his journey's end"; but he was a good colourist, with clearness and brilliancy in his flesh tints; and often, as in the "Duchess of Queensberry," redeemed his faulty drawing by a certain grace and style

Stock No: FCS623


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