Thomas Pooley, Portrait Painter

(b. 1646, d. 1723)

Portrait Painter

From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

One of the earliest known portrait painters in Ireland. His father, Thomas Pooley, a native of England, was admitted as an attorney in the King's Inns, Dublin, in 1632, and married Douglas, third daughter and co-heiress of Edward Neville. Of this marriage there were four sons: Thomas, the painter; John, Bishop of Clonfert, who died in 1712; Neville, who married Mary, daughter of Sir Humphrey Jervis, of Dublin, and died in 1676, and Giles, D.D. Thomas was born at Ipswich in 1646, and entered Gray's Inn in 1664. He probably learned his art in London, and practised there in early life. Randle Holme, in his "Academy of Armory" published in Chester in 1688, referring to the characteristics of certain artists painting at that time, mentions "Pooley for a face." The earliest notice of him as a Dublin artist is in 1682, when he painted a portrait of "King Charles II" for the Corporation, "The King's picture at length in a frame of £10 value." He also painted for the Corporation portraits of "King William" and "Queen Mary." In January, 1683, he was admitted to the freedom of the Painter-Stayners and Cutlers' Corporation or Guild of St. Luke.

In 1687 he painted the portrait of "Henry, 2nd Earl of Clarendon," Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, as recorded in a letter dated 13th Jan., 1687, from Lord Clarendon: "In the morning I went to Pooley's the painter to finish a picture I was sitting for there" ("Diary and Correspondence of Lord Clarendon," 1828.) In 1700 he painted portraits of "Queen Mary" and "The Duke of Gloucester" for the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, for which he received, as recorded in the minute books of the Hospital, £16 and £10 respectively, including the frames; and for the Duke of Ormonde he did portraits of "Queen Anne" and "Prince George of Denmark" which are also in the Royal Hospital. Several portraits of the Perceval family were also done by him, including one, painted in 1685, of "Sir John Perceval," for which, with its frame, he was paid £24 (Hist. MSS. Com., Egmont MSS., Vol. II). A portrait by him of "Lady Nevill" was engraved in mezzotint by S. Leader, The Lady Neuell, Pooly pinxit. S. Leader fecit.

The Earl of Belmore possesses portraits of "Colonel James Corry, M.P." (died 1718), and "Colonel John Corry, M.P." (died 1726), both painted by Pooley; and at Townley Hall, Drogheda, in the possession of Mr. B. T. Balfour, are two portraits which are recorded in old lists as by Pooley, one of "Hamilton Townly Balfour," and the other of either "Blayney T. Balfour" or "Gustavus, 1st Viscount Boyne," it is uncertain which.

Pooley held land in Hoggen Green and the vicinity from the Corporation of Dublin, and we find him petitioning in 1694 that the £60 due to the Corporation for property held by him in Hoggen Green might be set off against the £60 due to him for the pictures of the King and Queen, "which he made for the use of this honourable city." He lived in Hoggen Green and later in Grafton Street. From 1695 to 1699 he represented the borough of Newcastle Lyons in the Irish Parliament. In 1719 he presented his portrait, a half-length painted by himself, to the Painter-Stayners and Cutlers' Corporation and it was hung in their Hall, where there was also a portrait by him of "Queen Mary II." He died in February, 1723, and was buried on the 13th of the month at St. Andrew's church. His will, dated 15th December, 1722, was proved 9th March, 1722-3. Swift, in a letter to the Rev. Thomas Wallis, dated Dublin, 12th Feb., 1722-3, refers to the death of "old Pooley, the painter."

He left an only daughter, Elizabeth, who married on 9th December, 1721, at St. Andrew's, Joshua Paul, Captain of Dragoons, afterwards Lt.-Colonel of the 1st Foot Guards, who died in 1767. In 1733 Colonel Paul presented to the Hall of the Guild of St. Luke "a suit of steel armour formerly belonging to Pooley, deceased, late a free brother of this Hall, whose daughter the said Col. Paul marryed."

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