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Davis, J. P. (DNB00)

DAVIS, J. P. (called ‘Pope’ Davis) (1784–1862), painter, was a friend of Haydon, and a persistent enemy of the Royal Academy. Like his unfortunate friend, he got the worst of the fight in his struggles with the Royal Academy. He first exhibited with that body in 1811. Then, and for ten years following, his contributions consisted of portraits in oil. In 1824 he went to Rome. There he painted a large picture of the ‘Talbot family receiving the Benediction of the Pope’ (hence his cognomen, ‘Pope’ Davis). The year following he was awarded a premium of 50l. by the directors of the British Institution. In 1826, after his return to London, he exhibited at the Academy ‘Canova crowned by the Genius of Sculpture.’ Thenceforward until 1843 he was an occasional exhibitor. Mr. Algernon Graves (Dict. of Artists) states that he continued exhibiting until 1875; but as he most certainly died in 1862, this seems to require explanation. He was a vigorous and not a bad writer. In 1843 he published ‘Facts of vital importance relative to the Embellishment of the Houses of Parliament;’ in 1858 ‘The Royal Academy and the National Gallery. What is the state of these Institutions?’ In 1866 appeared a posthumous volume of essays by this artist, entitled ‘Thoughts on Great Painters.’ A preface to this book states that the author died on 28 Sept. 1862.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Graves's Dict. of Artists.]

E. R.