1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Severn, Joseph

SEVERN, JOSEPH (1793–1879), English portrait and subject painter, was born at Hoxton on the 7th of December 1793, his father, a musician, coming of an old Gloucestershire family. During his earlier years he practised portraiture as a miniaturist; and, having studied in the schools of the Royal Academy, in 1818 he gained the gold medal for his “Una and the Red Cross Knight in the Cave of Despair.” In 1819 he exhibited at the Academy his “Hermia and Helena.” He was an intimate friend of Keats the poet, whom he accompanied to Italy in 1820 and nursed till his death in 1821. His picture of “The Death of Alcibiades” then obtained for him an Academy travelling studentship, and he returned to Rome, where he lived till 1841, marrying in 1828 the daughter of Lord Montgomerie, a ward of Lady Westmoreland, one of his chief patrons, and mingling in the congenial art circles of the city. In 1861, after living in England for nineteen years, mainly for the education of his children, he was appointed British consul at Rome, a post which he held till 1872, and during a great part of the time he also acted as Italian consul. His most remarkable work is the “Spectre Ship” from the Ancient Mariner. He painted “Cordelia watching by the Bed of Lear,” the “Roman Beggar," “Ariel,” “The Fountain,” and “Rienzi,” executed a large altar-piece for the church of St Paul at Rome, and produced many portraits, including one of Baron Bunsen and several of Keats. He died at Rome on the 3rd of August 1879. He had six children, of whom Walter, Arthur and Ann (wife of Sir Charles Newton) were well-known artists.

See the Life and Letters, by William Sharp (1892).