DEVIS, Arthur

1712 - 1787

Arthur Devis

Arthur Devis was born in Preston, Lancashire, on 12 February 1712, eldest son of Anthony Devis and his wife Ellen née Rauthmell and two of Arthur's sons were also artists: Arthur William Devis (1762–1822) and Thomas Anthony Devis (1757–1810). Arthur was a pupil in London of the sporting and topographical painter Peter Tillemans (1684-1734) and after the Tillemans retirement in 1733 Devis returned to Preston. His earliest dated work, of 1735, is a view painting and his earliest dated portraits are from 1741, and by the following year he is recorded as working in London. He married in 1742 Elizabeth Faulkner and the couple had twenty-two children although only six survived childhood. In 1745 he was well established as a painter of small-scale portraits and conversation pieces and settled in Great Queen Street in Lincoln's Inn Fields. Although Devis was based in London, while he was establishing his reputation, he travelled widely, particularly back to his native Lancashire. His sitters ranged from the landed Tory gentry like Farington and Gwilym through to wealthy professionals. Many of his early commissions came from Lancashire Jacobite families and were obtained through his father's local connections. From 1761 Devis exhibited irregularly at the Free Society of Artists of Great Britain, of which he became president in 1768 but his reputation was eclipsed by that of Zoffany. Although not a Suffolk based artist did spend a considerable time in the county painting portraits of the local gentry including at Ipswich when he painted the children of the Edgar family of Red House Park. He also painted Sir John Rous of Henham Hall, Elizabeth Norgate from a prominent Suffolk family and the Vanneck family and others. In later life Devis was active more as a restorer and between 1777 and 1778 he was paid one thousand pounds for cleaning and repairing the Painted Hall at Greenwich. In 1783 he sold his collection of pictures and retired to Brighton, where Arthur Devis died on 25 July 1787 although he is buried at St Mary’s Paddington.

Works by This Artist