Meyer, Jeremiah (DNB00)


MEYER, JEREMIAH (1735–1789), miniature-painter, born at Tübingen, Würtemberg, in 1735, was the son of an obscure artist, who brought him to England in 1749. He studied in Shipley's academy in St. Martin's Lane, and during 1757 and 1758 was a pupil of C. F. Zincke [q. v.], to whom he paid 400l. for instruction and materials. He practised both in enamel and miniature with great ability, and was for many years without a rival. In 1760 and 1764 Meyer exhibited enamels with the Society of Arts, and in 1761 gained the prize of 20l. offered by the society for a profile portrait of the king, to be used for the coinage; engravings from this by MacArdell and others were very popular. He was naturalised in 1762, and in 1764 became enamel-painter to the king, having already been appointed miniature-painter to the queen. Meyer was one of the original directors of the Incorporated Society of Artists, and in 1769 was chosen a foundation member of the Royal Academy. He contributed to the Academy's exhibitions until 1783, sending several portraits of members of the royal family. To Meyer's initiative was due the establishment of the Royal Academy pension fund in 1775. He was a friend of both Romney and Hayley, and brought them together in 1776. Meyer resided for many years in Tavistock Row, Covent Garden, and later at Kew, where he died of a fever on 19 Jan. 1789. He lies close to Gainsborough in Kew churchyard. A mural tablet to his memory, with a medallion portrait and some eulogistic verses by Hayley, is in Kew Church.

Meyer's art was strongly influenced by his study of Reynolds, and his miniatures are unsurpassed for truth and refinement. In private life he was much esteemed, and Hayley, in his ‘Essay on Painting,’ paid a warm tribute to his merits. He married in 1763 Barbara Marsden, a lady of some artistic talent, who survived him.

An unfinished portrait of Meyer, by N. Dance, R.A., was engraved after his death by W. Pether, and a profile of him is in the set of portraits of artists by D. Pariset, after P. Falconet. A portrait of one of his daughters, in the character of Hebe, painted by Reynolds, has been engraved in mezzotint by J. Jacobé.

[Chalmers's Biog. Dict.; Sandby's Hist. of the Royal Acad.; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Hayley's Life of Romney; Edwards's Anecd. of Painting; Lysons's Environs of London, i. 152.]

F. M. O'D.