Charles Jervas (or Jarvis), Portrait Painter

(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 he went to London and was in Kneller's studio 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, and made many copies of the Old Masters. In 1709 he returned to England and 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.

On the death of Kneller in 1723 Jervas was appointed principal painter to George I, a post in which he was continued under George II. 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.

The following list includes his principal works:

Joseph Addison. [Lord Sackville, Knole.] Signed C. Jarvis.

Joseph Addison. [Earl Amherst.]

Joseph Addison. Earl of Bessborough's sale, Christie's, Feb., 1801.

John Arbuthnot, M.D. [College of Physicians, London.]

Anne, Duchess of Bedford. [Duke of Bedford.]

Elizabeth, Duchess of Bedford and her four children. Painted in 1713. [Duke of Bedford.]

Gertrude, Duchess of Bedford. Earl Waldegrave's sale, Christie's, 10th Feb., 1900.

Colonel Thomas Bellingham. [Sir Henry Bellingham, Bart.]

Martha and Theresa Blount. [Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.]

Martha Blount. [Marquess of Bute.]

John, Lord Boyle, son of Charles Earl of Orrery. Earl of Cork's sale, Christie's, 25th Nov., 1905.

Lord Brackley, Wm. Godolphin and Lady Anne Egerton. [Earl Spencer.]

Elizabeth, Duchess of Bridgwater. [Earl Spencer.]

Caroline, Queen of George II. Painted for the Corporation of London, 1727. [Corporation of London.]

Caroline, Queen of George II when Princess of Wales. [National Portrait Gallery, London.]

Thomas Carter, Master of the Rolls. Engraved in mezzotint by J. Brooks.

Charles I, after the portrait by Van Dyck in the Louvre. [Duke of Grafton, Euston Hall.]

William Conolly, Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. [Captain Conolly, Castletown.] Engraved in line by P. Fourdrinier, and in mezzotint by T. Beard.

Catherine, wife of W. Conolly. [Captain Conolly, Castletown.]

William, Duke of Cumberland. Engraved in mezzotint by J. Faber.

William, Duke of Cumberland, as a child. [National Portrait Gallery.] Engraved by G. Vertue.

Lady Elwell, [Earl Spencer.]

Richard Felsham, M.D., S.F.T.C.D. Engraved in mezzotint by Thomas Beard.

Mary Galwey, wife of Michael Grace of Gracefield. Engraved by R. Grave in "Memoirs of the Family of Grace," 1823.

John Gay. Earl of Upper Ossory's sale in 1842.

George II. [Corporation or London.] Painted in 1727 for the Corporation.

George II, on horseback; the horse painted by Wootton. [Lord Suffield.]

Henrietta, Countess of Godolphin, afterwards Duchess of Marlborough. [Earl Spencer.]

Margaret Cavendish Harley, afterwards Duchess of Portland, as a child. [Duke of Portland.]

Queen Henrietta Maria, after the portrait by Van Dyck belonging to Earl Fitzwilliam at Wentworth Woodhouse. [Lord Leconfield, at Petworth.]

Robert Hildyard, of Patrington, M.P. Christie's, 28th Nov., 1911.

Earl of Holderness. [Kensington Palace.]

William, 3rd Earl of Inchiquin. [Earl of Inchiquin.]

Mary, Countess of Inchiquin, wife of last. [Earl of Inchiquin.]

Esther Johnson—"Stella." [National Gallery, Dublin.]

William King, Archbishop of Dublin. [Lady Molyneux, Castle-Dillon, County Armagh.] Engraved in mezzotint by Andrew Miller in 1743, when the picture was in possession of Sir Capel Molyneux.

William King, Archbishop of Dublin. [Deanery of St. Patrick's.] Belonged to John, 1st Lord Carteret, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. On the death, in 1838, of the second and last Lord Carteret, it passed to Lord John Thynne, and was sold at Christie's, in May, 1911.

William King, Archbishop of Dublin. Engraved in mezzotint by J. Faber, in 1729.

William King, Archbishop of Dublin. Engraved in mezzotint by R. Purcell.

Mary, Viscountess Malpas, daughter of Sir Robert Walpole. Profile sketch; formerly at Houghton.

Henrietta, Duchess of Marlborough.—See Godolphin.

Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, or, more probably, her daughter Elizabeth, Duchess of Bridgwater. [Duke of Bedford, Woburn.]

Mary, Duchess of Montagu. [Earl Spencer.]

Mary, Duchess of Montagu. Earl of Blessington's sale, Dublin, 1838.

Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle. Sale of Townshend heirlooms, from Raynham Hall, Sotheby's, 14th June, 1911.

Sir Isaac Newton. [Royal Society, Burlington House.]

Margaret, Countess of Oxford. Earl Waldegrave's sale, Christie's, 10th February, 1900. Formerly at Strawberry Hill.

Robert Walpole, Earl of Orford. Engraved by H. Robinson, 1829.

Henrietta Maria, Duchess of Orleans; after Lely. [Earl of Derby.] Formerly at Strawberry Hill.

Charles, 4th Earl of Orrery. [National Portrait Gallery.]

Thomas Parnell, the poet. Painted for Pope during Jervas's visit to Ireland in 1716.

Alexander Pope. [Marquess of Lansdowne.] Bought from the Earl of Ossory in 1842 by Lord Lansdowne. Has been frequently engraved.

Alexander Pope. [Caen Wood.] Engraved in Vol. VI of his Works.

Alexander Pope. [Earl of Pembroke, Wilton House.]

Alexander Pope and (?) Martha Blount. [National Portrait Gallery.] Engraved in 1819 by J. H. Robinson as frontispiece to Portuguese translation of the "Essay on Man."

Margaret, Duchess of Portland.—See Harvey.

Matthew Prior. Drawing inscribed In Paris 1699. [Duke of Portland, Welbeck.]

Catherine Hyde, Duchess of Queensberry. [National Portrait Gallery.]

Catherine Hyde, Duchess of Queensberry. [Cassiobury.]

John, 3rd Duke of Rutland. Engraved by J. Faber.

Catherine Shorter, wife of Sir Robert Walpole; after Kneller. Formerly at Strawberry Hill.

Maria Skerret, second wife of Sir Robert Walpole. Formerly at Strawberry Hill.

Hon. John Spencer. [Earl Spencer.]

Harriet, Countess of Suffolk. Formerly at Strawberry Hill. Presented to Horace Walpole by Lady Suffolk, who purchased it at Mrs. Martha Blount's sale.

Charles, 3rd Earl of Sunderland. [Earl Spencer.]

Anne, Countess of Sunderland. [Earl Spencer,]

Anne, Countess of Sunderland, and her daughter Diana afterwards Duchess of Bedford. [Earl Spencer.]

Jonathan Swift. [Bodleian Library, Oxford.] This picture is almost certainly the one commenced by Jervas in 1709 and finished the following year, as recorded in Swift's "Journal to Stella." It was presented to Oxford by Swift's friend Alderman John Barber in 1739. The gift is referred to in a letter from Richardson to Swift, dated 10th April, 1739: "Your friend Mr. Alderman Barber, whose veneration for you prompts him to do anything he can think of that can show his respect and affection, made a present to the University of Oxford of the original picture done for you by Jervas, to do honour to the University by your being placed in the Gallery among the most renowned and distinguished personages this island has produced; but first he had a copy taken, and then had the original set in a rich frame and sent it to Oxford, after concerting with Lord Bolingbroke, the Vice-Chancellor and Mr. Pope." The picture was engraved by G. Vertue, under the supervision of Jervas himself, who writes to Pope in 1715: "I intend this day to call at Vertue's to see Swift's brought a little more like."

Jonathan Swift. Painted in 1710. Swift in the "Journal to Stella," 26th October, 1710, says; "I will try some contrivance to get a copy of my picture from Jervas. I'll make Sir Andrew Fountaine buy one as for himself, and I'll pay him again and take it." In Richardson's letter, quoted above, it is stated that a copy of the Bodleian portrait was taken for Barber, i.e., in 1739. Neither of these copies can now be traced.

Jonathan Swift. Was in 1734 in the possession of the Earl of Chesterfield. It was engraved by Fourdrinier about 1734, and a small engraving was done by T. Cook in 1778, when the picture was still in the possession of Lord Chesterfield. A note in Faulkner's edition of Swift's works, 1758, states that the Fourdrinier print was engraved from an original picture painted by Jervas, which was afterwards purchased by the Earl of Chesterfield and placed in his elegant library in Mayfair in his collection of English authors.

Jonathan Swift. Painted in Ireland during the artist's stay there in 1716. It belonged to the Earl of Oxford, who, writing to Swift on 26th July, 1725, says: "I have the pleasure of seeing a picture, which is very like you, every day, and is as good a picture as ever Jervas painted." Replying to this letter on 14th August Swift writes: "I hope the picture of me in your house is the same which Mr. Jervas drew in Ireland, and carried over, because it is more like me by several years than another he drew in London. It is placed where my heart would most desire to have it, although it be an honour which in spite of my pride will make me vain." Writing again on 30th August Lord Oxford says: "The picture I have of you is the same which Mr. Jervas drew of you in Ireland, and it is very like you, and is a very good picture; and though Mr. Jervas is honoured with the place of His Majesty's painter, he cannot paint a picture I shall so much value as I do that of the Dean of St. Patrick's." This picture, a half-length, was sold with the collection of Edward, Earl of Oxford, in March, 1741-2, by Cook, Covent Garden, and purchased for 10 guineas by "Boden."

Jonathan Swift. [National Portrait Gallery.] The history of this picture does not go beyond its ownership by the Marquess of Hastings, at whose sale in 1869 it was bought by Messrs. Graves for the National Portrait Gallery.]

Jonathan Swift. [National Gallery of Ireland.] Formerly in possession of the Rev. Edward Berwick and of his son, Judge Berwick, from whose representatives it was purchased for the Gallery in 1875.

Jonathan Swift. [Lord Sackville, Knole.] Probably belonged originally to Lady Betty Germaine, one of Swift's oldest friends.

Jonathan Swift. [Earl of Darnley, Cobham Hall.]

Jonathan Swift, Sold by the Earl of Bessborough at Christie's in 1850. The purchaser's name was Page; but the picture has not been further traced. While in Lord Bessborough's possession it was engraved by A. Warren. Jonathan Swift. A portrait, 2 ft. 6 in. by 2 ft. 1 in., said to be by Jervas, belonged to Charles Dickinson, Bishop of Meath, and was in his sale at 45 North Great George's Street, Dublin, in February, 1842.

Dorothy, Viscountess Townshend. [Earl of Leicester.]

Dorothy, Viscountess Townshend, in a Turkish dress. Formerly at Strawberry Hill. Earl Waldegrave's sale at Christie's, 10th February, 1900.

"Jacky," a child of Archdeacon Wall, Rector of Castleknock. Painted in Dublin in 1716.

Robert Walpole. Engraved in mezzotint by J. Simon.

Robert Walpole. Lent to Guelph Exhibition, 1891, by H. Spencer Walpole.

Philip, Duke of Wharton. Engraved in mezzotint by J. Simon.

Boy with Bow and Arrows, standing in a Landscape. Townshend heirlooms, sale at Sotheby's, 14 June, 1911.

Dog and Still Life.

Dogs and Still Life. Both [this and above] formerly at Houghton. Engraved by P. C. Canot and published by Boydell in 1778.

The following nineteen portraits, heads, about 1 foot 5 ½ inches by 1 foot 2 ½ inches, were copied by Jervas after Lely and others, and hung in his house at Hampton. They were sold, after his death, to Edward Lovibond, from whom they were purchased in 1776 by Horace Walpole. They were hung at Strawberry Hill in a room called "The Beauty Room." Writing to the Countess of Upper Ossory, 20th June, 1776, Walpole says: "I have turned a little yellow bedchamber below stairs into a beauty room with Jervas's small copies of Sir P. Lely's beauties." These pictures, dispersed at the Strawberry Hill sale in 1842, were:

Lady Anne Cavendish.

Charles II. [Earl of Derby.]

Arabella Churchill.

Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland.

Queen Katherine of Braganza.

Louise de Keroualle.

Queen Mary II.

Henry, Earl of Ogle.

Lady Elizabeth Percy.

Lady Gertrude Pierpont.

Lady Mary Rich.

Frances Stuart, Duchess of Richmond.

Mrs. Philadelphia Saunders.

Catherine Sidley.

Lady Dorothy Sidney, Countess of Sunderland, "Saccharissa"; after a picture by Van Dyck at Petworth. [Earl of Derby.]

Mrs. Trevor. [Sir John Leslie, Bart., Glasslough, Co. Monaghan.]

William III.

A Lady, unknown.

A Lady, unknown.

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