Joseph F. Ellis, Marine Painter

(b. about 1783, d. 1848)

Marine Painter

From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

Born about 1783, son of John Ellis (q.v.). He made his debut as an artist in 1801, when he sent seven landscape and subject pictures to the exhibition in the Parliament House. A contemporary notice refers to him as "a young performer who may probably be of some eminence, but should have restrained his vanity in braving an exhibition until his pencil had brought forth something passable, at least to vulgar eyes. He treads in the most exalted walk of painting, the delineation of history, and even aspires to design from the same scenes with the most celebrated of the Italian School." In 1804 he again appeared as an exhibitor, sending to Allen's in Dame Street eight views of shipping; and he continued to exhibit similar subjects down to 1817. He was held in high estimation as a marine painter, and painted a sea-piece expressly for Major Sirr. A "View of Dublin Bay with the Van Tromp line-of-battle ship and pilot boats in a brisk gale," was sold at Littledale's in 1844, and described in the catalogue as "the celebrated picture." It now belongs to Dr. Minchin, 4 Kenilworth Terrace, Rathgar. In 1818 Ellis went to London and started there as a painter of marine subjects. He exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1819 and 1820, and sent over a picture, "The Battle of Trafalgar," to the exhibition in Hawkins Street in 1819, and four in 1821. He exhibited at the British institution from 1819 to 1822. One of his early works was sold there for sixty pounds; but this good fortune did not continue. He got into the hands of unscrupulous agents, who employed him in making endless repetitions of views of Venice and copies of Vernets, which were sold as originals in the London auction rooms. He lived on a weekly pittance, labouring incessantly in a wretched room in an obscure street. He was frugal and unassuming in his habits, with much wit and good-humour, which never left him through all his trials. He died at Richmond, Surrey, on the 28th May, 1848, in his sixty-fifth year.

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