John Wesley Jarvis
Also Known as: John Jarvis
South Shields, England 1780
New York, New York 1840
Attributed to Henry Inman, John Wesley Jarvis, 1822, watercolor and pencil on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum,Museum purchase 1962.1.1.
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Luce Artist Biography
Between 1800 and 1820, John Wesley Jarvis was the leading portrait painter in New York City. He arrived in 1785 with his family, and by 1801 had gone into business as an artist. He patented a machine for drawing profiles, and became wealthy making gilded silhouettes. At the peak of his success, he was commissioned to paint a series of portraits of the leading military heroes from the War of 1812 for New York City Hall. Reckless financial habits and high living destroyed his fortune and his career, and he died penniless after being paralyzed for several years.