2 of 26 portraits of Jonathan Swift
by Charles Jervas
oil on canvas, circa 1718
48 1/2 in. x 38 1/4 in. (1232 mm x 972 mm)
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Artistback to top
- Charles Jervas (1675-1739), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 39 portraits, Sitter in 4 portraits.
This portraitback to top
This portrait of Jonathan Swift, Dean of St Patrick's in Dublin, was painted in about 1718. He is dressed in the robes and clerical collar appropriate to his position. Although he was an ordained priest Swift was far from being a conventional Christian and is known today as the author of Gulliver's Travels, a satire on contemporary politics and manners. Swift spent much of his life in fierce dispute with his literary and political opponents whom he saw as intellectual pygmies. He is depicted in this portrait at his writing table with paper and quill in hand. On the table rests copies of Aesop, Horace and Lucian.
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Events of 1718back to top
Current affairsCharles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland becomes first Lord of the Treasury, the most influential political post in Britain at this time.
Transportation Act creates the punishment of penal transportation as an alternative to the death penalty.
Marrow Controversy; an ecclesiastical dispute breaks out in Scotland over the doctrine of atonement.
Art and scienceProper motion of the stars is discovered by Astronomer Royal Edmond Halley.
Inventor James Puckle patents an early form of machine gun known as the Puckle Gun.
InternationalCharles XII of Sweden dies in mysterious circumstances and is succeeded by his sister Ulrika Eleonora.
Quadruple Alliance formed as the Holy Roman Empire joins the Triple Alliance to prevent the Spanish changing the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht. War of the Quadruple Alliance begins against Spain until 1720. George Byng, 1st Viscount Torrington is made Admiral of the Fleet and thwarts Spanish attempts to take Sicily at the Battle of Cape Passaro.