A head-and-shoulders portrait, full-face, in a painted oval. The sitter is wearing rear-admiral's undress uniform of 1787–1795 and the ribbon and star of the Bath, the former worn inside his coat. The background has been painted as sky. In 1795 he was put in command of the British Mediterranean fleet and in 1797, with Nelson as his commodore, led his forces to victory over a Spanish fleet off Cape St Vincent. Jervis was created Earl St Vincent in recognition of this achievement and he later became First Lord of the Admiralty, 1801–1804. The sitter and the artist became friends and this is reflected in the directness, warmth and intimacy of this portrait, particularly notable since Jervis had a public reputation as a strict disciplinarian. The artist trained as a lawyer before entering the Royal Academy Schools, London, in 1772, where he may have studied with Johan Zoffany. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1776, and throughout his career he produced competent portraits since he had no shortage of clients. In 1793, he was named portrait painter to Queen Charlotte and undertook a number of royal commissions. His straightforward style perfectly suited the stolid and conventional taste of the Royal family. In 1795, John Opie described Beechey's pictures as 'of that mediocre quality as to taste & fashion, that they seemed only fit for sea captains & merchants'.
Where to see this painting?
National Maritime Museum
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