Charles Wesley Jarvis

(1812 - 1868)

Son of the well-known portraitist John Wesley Jarvis, (1780-1840), and his second wife, Betsy Burtis, who died while Charles was still a baby. Raised by his mother's family in Oyster Bay, Long Island, he did not have a happy childhood; according to family tradition, he "left the wealthy Burtises with half a shirt on his back" (Dickson, 1949). His profligate father neglected him and probably never gave him instruction in painting. Henry Inman, who had been John Wesley Jarvis' apprentice, as a return favor took on young Charles as his assistant. Charles worked with Inman in New York and Philadelphis from 1831 to 1834. The following year he returned to New York, where he set up his own portrait studio and exhibited occasionally at the National Academy of Design and the Apollo Association. In 1854, he moved to Newark, New Jersey, but kept a studio in New York until his death. Jarvis seems to have worked only briefly, as a miniaturisst; he did not exhibit his miniatures and listed himself in the city director as a miniature painter just once, in 1845. There are no well-documented miniatures by this artist, making an evaluation of his style difficult.

Charles Wesley Jarvis, the second son of the portrait painter John Wesley Jarvis, was born in New York City. His mother died the following year, and he and an older brother, John, were raised by her relatives on Long Island. Jarvis' father spent many years away from home working as an itinerant painter.

Jarvis apparently received his earliest artistic training from Henry Inman, his father's former assistant. Jarvis apprenticed with Inman and worked with him in Philadelphia between 1831 and 1834. Jarvis then returned to New York and opened a studio the following year; within a few years he was exhibiting at the National Academy of Design. During the next two decades his patrons included members of prominent families. He maintained a studio in New York City despite moving his home to Newark, New Jersey.

Although Charles Jarvis' career seems to have been overshadowed by that of his more famous parent, recent scholarship has reattributed many works once thought to be his father's to his hand.

© Copyright Ownership: National Gallery of Art

A son of John Wesley Jarvis (1780-1840), Charles Wesley Jarvis became a portrait painter, which included miniatures. He also did historical subjects.

He was raised by the Burtises, his mother's family, who lived at Oyster Bay, Long Island. "About 1828, he was apprenticed to Henry Inman with whom he worked in New York City and Philadelphia until 1834." Then he returned to New York City, where he was elected to the National Academy of Design and worked from his studio as a portrait painter until his death in 1868 at age fifty six.

Source:, by Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art

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