James Petrie, Miniature Painter

(d. 1819)

Miniature Painter

From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

James Petrie. Oil miniature, by Himself; in the National Gallery of Ireland.

His father was a native of Aberdeen, who had settled in Dublin, and his mother was also Scottish, coming from Edinburgh. He studied in the Dublin Society's Schools, and afterwards practised as a miniature painter at No. 82 Dame Street, where he also carried on business as a jeweller and dealer in coins and antiquarian objects. Besides painting miniatures he drew portraits for the magazines, and he also published some engravings himself. Of them a "Portrait of Napper Tandy" and one of "John Philpot Curran" are scarce. That of Curran, engraved by Maguire, who engraved many of Petrie's portraits for magazines, was published in 1807 at 3s. 4d. Petrie occasionally did landscapes and also essayed portraits in oil; a "Portrait of John Philpot Curran" in the National Gallery of Ireland may be by him. His first contribution to an exhibition was an oil portrait which he sent to the Exhibition of the Artists of the City of Dublin at 32 Dame Street, in 1800. He exhibited miniatures in the Parliament House in 1801 and 1802, and in Hawkins Street at the yearly exhibitions from 1809 to 1814, and at the Hibernian Society in 1815. Ten landscapes by him were exhibited in Hawkins Street in 1819, after his death.

In the troublous time of the Rebellion, Petrie was arrested on suspicion of being connected with the United Irishmen, and spent a short time in the Provost prison. There he made the acquaintance of the redoubtable Major Sandys, whose portrait he painted, and to whose friendship he appears to have owed his release. Petrie's work was wanting in delicacy and refinement, and he did not err on the side of flattering his sitters. Such works as the series of portraits engraved in the "Methodist Magazine" are examples of this—where the portraits suggest prize-fighters rather than ministers of religion.

Petrie died in 1819. He was twice married; first to Elizabeth, daughter of Sacheverell Simpson of Edinburgh, who died on 18th April, 1793; and secondly, on 20th July, 1808, at St. Werburgh's, to Wilhelmina Bate. She survived him and carried on the jewellery business in Dame Street for some years after her husband's death. She died at Rathmines on 12th November, 1862. By his first wife he was the father of George Petrie, P.R.H.A. (q.v.).

Among James Petrie's works may be mentioned:

Portrait of Himself. A small oil portrait. [National Gallery of Ireland.]

George Petrie, his son. Miniature. [National Gallery of Ireland.]

Group, the artist himself and two other figures. Pen drawing. [Late W. Hinch, 34 Cambridge Road, Rathmines.]

John Philpot Curran. Oil picture. Formerly in possession of R. C. H. Collins, Dublin.

John Philpot Curran. Engraved by Maguire. In the National Gallery of Ireland is an oil picture resembling this engraving and most probably by Petrie.

Robert Emmett. Indian ink drawing. Taken while on his Trial for High Treason whilst Ld. Norbury was charging the Jury. [Lord Monteagle.] Engraved in stipple by J. Heath for Barrington's "Historic Memoirs."

Lord Chancellor Manners. Engraved by P. Maguire.

Major-General Montagu Mathew. Indian ink drawing. [Lord Monteagle.] Engraved by J. Heath for Barrington's "Historic Memoirs."

D. Lambert Redmond. Engraved by P. Maguire and published at 82 Dame Street.

Felix Rourke. Engraved by P. Maguire and published at 82 Dame Street.

J. Napper Tandy. Engraved anonymously.

J. Napper Tandy. Drawing. [Lord Monteagle.] Engraved by J. Heath in Barrington's "Historic Memoirs."

Edward Williams, actor. Engraved by P. Maguire for "Cyclopedian Magazine," April, 1808.

A Series of Portraits of Ministers and Preachers, in the "Methodist Magazine."

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