Denis Brownell Murphy, Miniature Painter

(fl. 1763-1842)

Miniature Painter

From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

Was born in Dublin. He received his art training in the Dublin Society's Schools, and in 1763 he was awarded a prize of five guineas for drawings of full-length figures. For some years he practised as a miniature painter in Dublin at No. 36 Golden Lane, and exhibited at the Society of Artists "Music, a water-colour Portrait," and "Cleopatra" in 1765, and three portraits in 1768. He appears to have left Dublin for some time, returning in 1792. In April of that year he advertised his return from London, "where he had improved himself by studying." For a short time he was employed as a miniature painter by Bates and Bird, jewellers, 90 Dame Street, but in 1793 established himself at 92 Grafton Street, whence he moved in 1794 to College Green. He does not appear to have obtained much reputation as an artist; and failing to make any position for himself and becoming involved in the revolutionary movement, he quitted Ireland about 1798 and went to England with his family. For some time he was in the North of England, Whitehaven and Newcastle, and also in Scotland, but finally settled in London. From Newcastle he sent a landscape drawing to the exhibition in the Parliament House in 1801. He found success as a miniature painter, both in water-colour and enamel, in London, and painted many persons of distinction. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1800 to 1827.

In 1810 he was appointed Miniature Painter in Ordinary to the Princess Charlotte, and received a commission from her to copy Lely's "Windsor Beauties," together with three other portraits, viz.: "Louise de Queroualle," "Catherine of Braganza" and "Nell Gwynn." At the Princess's death he had completed sixteen, and these were purchased by Sir Gerard Noel, who engaged Murphy to complete the work and also added four others: "Countess of Chesterfield," "Lady Yarmouth," "Duchess of Devonshire" and "La Belle Jennings," making twenty-one in all. The set was bequeathed by Lady Noel at her death in 1867 to her niece, who sold them to Mr. D. Bromilow, by whom they were lent to the exhibition at Wrexham in 1876. While in possession of Sir Gerard Noel they were engraved to illustrate the "Beauties of the Court of Charles II," a work written by Murphy's daughter, Mrs. Jameson, and published in 1833. Murphy died in 1842. His daughter, Mrs. Anna Jameson, the well-known writer on art, was born at his residence in College Green, Dublin, in 1794.

Amongst miniatures by Murphy are:

Twenty-one miniature copies of the Windsor Beauties, etc. as described above.

Thomas Bewick. Engraved in stipple by J. Summerfield, 1816.

Charles Bicknell, solicitor to the Admiralty. R.A., 1811. Engraved in stipple by Freeman and Dubourg in 1814.

Charles I. Enamel, signed and dated 1805. [Duke of Devonshire.]

John Crome, artist. Engraved in stipple by R. W. Sievier, 1821.

James Forbes, F.R.S. Engraved in stipple by M. W. Bate as frontispiece to his "Oriental Memoirs," 1812; and by T. Blood in "European Magazine," May, 1816.

Samuel Glasse, D.D. Engraved in stipple by M. W. Bate.

Augustus F., 3rd Duke of Leinster. Enamel. R.A., 1807; another in 1813.

Earl of Rocksavage. R.A., 1820.

William Wordsworth. [Earl of Mayo.]

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