Garret Morphey, Portrait Painter

(fl. 1680-1716)

Portrait Painter

From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

A Dublin portrait painter at the end of the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth century. He is known from the portrait painted by him of Archbishop Oliver Plunket, executed at Tyburn in 1681, which was finely reproduced in mezzotint by J. Vander Vaart. The print is inscribed G. Morpheij pinxit. I. Vander Vaart fe. T. Donbar Ex. A small engraving in line, in reverse, was done by R. Collin. An oil portrait of the Archbishop, which may be the original of the print, but is perhaps an old copy, is in the National Gallery of Ireland, and a similar but smaller one is in the Bodleian Library. A portrait of Anne Boyle, daughter of Murrough, 1st Viscount Blessington, and wife of William Stewart, 2nd Viscount Mountjoy, painted by Morphey in 1696, belongs to Mr. Charles Hamilton, of Hamwood, Dunboyne. This is a three-quarter length portrait in an oval, the lady seated in a landscape with a cupid by her side; it is a well-painted picture, and from its style and manner of execution suggests that the artist had studied in France. Morphey painted also in England. A portrait by him of Henry, Duke of Newcastle, for which he was paid twenty-five pounds in 1786, is at Welbeck.

He was, no doubt, the "Morphew" mentioned in a letter among the Portland papers at Welbeck, dated 19th June, 1688: "From York we hear that one Morphew, a Roman Catholic painter, drinking confusion to those who did not read his Majesty's Declaration, was attacked and beaten by one of the King's officers quartering in those parts, of which complaint is made to the King and the officer is sent for up" (Hist. MSS. Com., 14 Rept., app., Pt. II, p. 411). He was probably the "Mr. Murphy" who painted a portrait of John North, Warden of the Corporation of Painters and Stationers in Dublin, which hung in their Hall. Morphey died in Dublin at the end of 1715 or early in 1716. In his will, dated 1st November, 1715, and proved 12th May, 1716, he is described as "of the city of Dublin, painter." He directed that his pictures should be sold, and all his "things belonging to painting," with his drawings and unframed prints, to go to his nephew, Edmond Moore. In an advertisement in the "Dublin Evening Post" in 1736 (June 15-19, No. 99) of a sale of pictures in Dame Street, there are mentioned "several portraits of the gentry of this kingdom done by the famous Mr. Murphy."

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