POPE, ALEXANDER

(b. 1763, d. 1835)

Portrait Painter in Crayons and Miniature

From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

Son of Thomas Pope (q.v.) and younger brother of Somerville Pope-Stevens (q.v.), was born in Cork in 1763. He studied in the Dublin Society's Schools, which he entered on 6th December, 1776, and was also a pupil of H. D. Hamilton (q.v.), from whom he acquired his skill in crayon portraiture. In 1777 and 1780 he sent drawings and small portraits in crayons to the Society of Artists in William Street. In 1781 he visited Cork, and receiving encouragement there, practised for a few years as a portrait painter in miniature and crayons, charging for the latter an Irish guinea, £1 2s. 9d. His portraits are said to have been flattering and he was more anxious to produce a pleasant picture than a faithful likeness. An excellent example of his art is his crayon portrait of "John Bowes, Lord Chancellor," in the Royal Dublin Society's House, Kildare Street. Taking part in some private theatricals in Cork his success was such as to eventually determine him to adopt the stage as a profession; and obtaining an engagement at Covent Garden he made his appearance there in the part of "Oroonoko" on the 8th January, 1785. In this and in a series of other parts which followed he made a favourable impression, and for years he played the principal tragic parts in the same theatre and at Drury Lane and the Haymarket. He also frequently appeared in Dublin. Though never in the first rank as a tragedian, Pope had a long and successful career, owing more to his good looks, his graceful action and melodious voice, than to his powers as an actor. During his stage career he continued to paint portraits.

The year of his arrival in London he contributed a portrait of "Mrs. Siddons" to the Royal Academy, and he was a frequent exhibitor down to 1821, sending miniature, crayon and occasionally oil portraits. Many of his portraits, including several of prominent members of the theatrical profession, were engraved. When Martin Archer Shee came to London to push his fortunes as an artist, Pope befriended him and often entertained him in his house; and when Shee rose to fame he painted two portraits of him which were exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1792 and 1797. Pope was a great gourmet, and many stories are told of his fastidiousness and epicurean taste. In one we are told of his irrepressible indignation on the unexpected appearance of a magnificent haunch of venison at a table where, in full reliance on his host's assurance of a "plain family dinner," he had already dined heartily on boiled beef. He died in his house in Store Street, Bedford Square, on 22nd March, 1835.

Two portraits of him, one as "Henry VIII," by Sharpe, and another as "Hamlet," by Gainsborough Dupont, are in the Garrick Club.

He was married three times; first, in August, 1785, in Dublin, to Elizabeth Young, an actress. She died in March, 1797, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. She left her house in Half Moon Street, Piccadilly, to her husband. He married, secondly, on 24th January, 1798, at Hanover Square, Maria Anne Campion (Mrs. Spencer), a young and pretty widow, an actress and a native of the county of Waterford. She died in Half Moon Street in 1803, aged 26, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. Her portrait, painted by Shee and exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1803, now in the Garrick Club, was engraved in mezzotint by William Ward in 1804. Pope married thirdly, on 25th June, 1807, Clara Maria, daughter of Jared Leigh, an amateur painter, widow of Francis Wheatley, R.A., (q.v.). She was a clever artist, painting portraits and views, and also flower pieces in which she excelled, and was a frequent exhibitor in the Royal Academy; she also executed drawings for the "Botanical Magazine." She survived her second husband and died in Store Street on the 24th December, 1838. A portrait by her of "Madame Angelica Catalani" was engraved by A. Cardon in 1812.

Amongst portraits by Alexander Pope are:

John Bowes, Lord Chancellor. Crayon head. Purchased by the Dublin Society in 1800, for £12 19s., from Justin Pope (q.v.) for use in the School. [Royal Dublin Society.]

J. Boydell. Crayons. R.A., 1791. Engraved by J. Condé for the "European Magazine," 1792. [Major E. F. Coates, Tayle's Hill, Ewell, Surrey.]

Mrs. Boydell. Crayons. [Major E. F. Coates, Tayle's Hill, Ewell, Surrey.]

Michael Bryan. Miniature. R.A., 1806. Engraved in stipple by W. Haines, 1813, as frontispiece to the original quarto edition of Bryan's "Dictionary of Painters."

Miss Campion, afterwards Mrs. Pope. Engraved by Ridley in the "Monthly Mirror," February, 1798.

William Cooke, author. Engraved, anonymously, in "Monthly Mirror," November, 1807.

Thomas, 1st Lord Cremorne. R.A., 1791.

Mrs. Crouch. Crayons. R.A., 1787. Engraved by Ridley for "European Magazine," 1805.

John Philpot Curran. R.A., 1806.

George Daunt, surgeon. Crayons. Bequeathed to the Royal Dublin Society by his son-in-law, Thomas Pleasants. [Royal Dublin Society.]

Nathaniel Godbold. Engraved in mezzotint by H. Kingsbury.

Henry Grattan. Drawing, whole-length, standing by a table, holding in his hand the petition of the Roman Catholics. Engraved in stipple by E. Scriven. Published by Pope in 1814. Also engraved, half-length only, by J. Martyn.

Henry Grattan. Drawing, half-length. Engraved, with additions of chair and curtain, by J. Godby for Caddell and Davis' "Contemporary Portraits," 1810.

Henry Grattan. R.A., 1815.

Thomas King, actor. R.A., 1791.

Thomas King, actor. R.A., 1792. One of these engraved in stipple, anonymously, in 1799; and by W. Ridley"for the "Monthly Mirror," 1800.

George, W. F., 6th Duke of Leeds. R.A., 1799.

— Lewis, actor. Miniature. Engraved by W. Ridley for the "Monthly Mirror," 1798.

Mrs. Mathews, actress. [Garrick Club.]

George Ponsonby. Drawing. Belonged to Hon. Frederick Ponsonby, Bishop's Court, Co. Kildare, in 1844.

Mrs. Pope (Elizabeth Young). Engraved by Ridley in the "European Magazine," 1797.

Mrs. Pope (Maria Anne Campion). Miniature. Engraved by Ridley in the "Monthly Mirror," 1798.

Mrs. Siddons. R.A., 1785.

Mrs. Siddons, as "Isabella." Engraved by Scheener, 4to.

Henry Tresham, R.A. Engraved by A. Cardon, 1814, for "Gallery of Contemporary Portraits."

Look before you Leap. Mezzotint. Painted and engraved by A. Pope. [British Museum.]

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