Thomas Jarvis (or Jervis), Glass Painter

(d. 1799)

Glass Painter

From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

A native of Dublin, he commenced his art career there as a painter on glass, and was assisted in his chemical studies by Dr. Cunningham. In 1765 he was living in St. Martin's Lane, and exhibited a "Flower-piece in stained glass," with the Society of Artists in George's Lane. For the Duke of Leinster he executed some stained glass, which was formerly in the bow-window in the large room in Leinster House; and did several windows for Lord Charlemont at Marino, which were destroyed by fire in March, 1807. Three windows by him were formerly in Rathfarnham Castle, as recorded by Austin Cooper in 1781; but they have now disappeared. Determining to try his fortune in London, he left Dublin about 1770 with a recommendation from Lord Charlemont, and on his arrival found employment from Lord Cremorne in his house in Chelsea.

Horace Walpole, writing from No. 20 Arlington Street on 17th October, 1770, to Lord Charlemont, who had recommended Jarvis to him, says: "An artist that your Lordship patronizes will, I imagine, want little recommendation besides his own talents. It does not look indeed like very prompt obedience, when I am yet guessing only at Mr. Jervais's merit; but although he has lodged himself within a few doors of me, I have not been able to get to him, having been confined to my bed near two months with the gout, and still keeping my house. My first visit shall be to gratify my duty and curiosity" (Hist. MSS. Com, Charlemont Papers, I, 302). In 1776 Jarvis held an exhibition of his works in stained glass, comprising effects of moonlight, firelight, frost, etc., and next year he began the west window for New College Chapel, Oxford, from the designs of Sir Joshua Reynolds. On the completion of the work he exhibited the glass in Pall Mall, in a darkened room, in order to show the colours as Sir Joshua had designed them. But when placed in the daylight in the chapel, the effect disappointed his anticipations.

In the window were introduced portraits of himself and Sir Joshua. The original design for this part is now at Wentworth-Woodhouse. He also executed in glass West's "Resurrection" for St. George's Chapel, Windsor; but this work has been removed. Jarvis spared no pains in perfecting himself in the chemical and technical side of his art, and is said to have introduced many improvements; but in carrying out his designs he was too realistic, and the effect was often quite unsuited to glass. Retiring from his profession he resided at Windsor, and he died in his house there on 29th August, 1799.

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