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John Varley

John Varley, by William Mulready, 1814 -NPG 1529 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Regency Portraits Catalogue

John Varley

by William Mulready
3 3/4 in. x 3 1/8 in. (95 mm x 79 mm)
NPG 1529

Inscriptionback to top

Inscribed in ink, perhaps by Mulready, on back of panel: Portrait of/John Varley/b. 1777 d. 1842/painted by/William Mulready.

This portraitback to top

Mulready first met Varley at the RA Schools and at the age of 17 married his sister Elizabeth in 1803. He is usually known for genre and figure subjects but as a young man owned that he 'tried his hand at everything from a miniature to a panorama' (W. G. Strickland, Dictionary of Irish Artists, 2 vols., II, p 149). NPG 1529 is certainly a miniature by Mulready showing his brother-in-law aged about 35-40, but the date is secured at 1814 by an entry in Mulready's Account Book 1805-c.1861 in the V&A Museum library, and by a note in the Mulready Catalogue of 1864 (Kathryn Moore Heleniak, William Mulready, 1980, p 198). The portrait was a gift from artist to sitter and was offered to the NPG by Harold Fleetwood Varley on behalf of his mother (letter 15 January 1909 in NPG archive).
A black chalk drawing by Mulready in the British Museum, head and shoulders profile to left, shows the sitter at about the same age; it was etched by Mrs Dawson Turner.

Physical descriptionback to top

Head and shoulders facing in dark brown coat, cream waistcoat with high collar, white neckcloth and cravat; light brown hair, blue eyes, ruddy complexion; plain brown background.

Provenanceback to top

Varley family possession and bought from Fanny Varley, widow of Varley's grandson Edgar Varley, 1909.

Exhibitionsback to top

South Kensington 1864 (44 - 'Painted in 1814'); 'John Linnell and his Circle', Colnaghi, 1973 (125).

This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: Richard Walker, Regency Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, 1985, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.

View all known portraits for William Mulready

View all known portraits for John Varley