Cleveley, John (DNB00)

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CLEVELEY, JOHN (1747–1786), marine painter, son of John Cleveley, shipwright, of Deptford, and Sarah his wife, was born 25 Dec. 1747, being twin-brother of Robert Cleveley [q. v.]; he was baptised with his brother at St. Paul's, Deptford, on 7 Jan. following. He seems early in life to have held some appointment at Deptford, probably of the same nature as his father's, and while residing there he made acquaintance with Paul Sandby, who was then chief drawing master at the royal military academy at Woolwich, from whom he learnt the art of water-colour painting and tinted drawings. The shipping at Deptford afforded to a young artist of his temperament every opportunity for depicting nautical scenes and incidents. We find the name of John Cleveley as an exhibitor first in 1764 at the exhibition of the Free Society of Artists; this, however, was probably his father, by whom there is a picture of 'The Prince of Wales, East Indiaman,' dated 1754, in possession of Mr. Philip Peck of Exmouth. In 1767, 1768, 1769, at the same society's exhibitions, we find the names of John Cleveley, and John Cleveley, junior, concurrently. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1770, and up to 1782 his works are always signed 'John Cleveley, junior.' His first exhibited works were views on the Thames, mostly taken at the docks or in the neighbourhood of Deptford. In 1772 he was chosen to accompany Sir Joseph Banks, as draughtsman, on his voyage to the Hebrides, Orkneys, and Iceland, and made numerous sketches, which he afterwards worked up into water-colour drawings. Several of these are preserved in the British Museum. In 1774 he was appointed draughtsman to Captain Phipps's expedition to the North Seas, and made the drawings to illustrate the 'Journal of the Voyage.' Another brother, James Cleveley, was carpenter on board the Resolution under Captain Cook, and made sketches on the spot of the places visited during that expedition. These were afterwards worked up in water-colours by John Cleveley, and published in aquatint by F. Jukes. Some water-colours by him of this description are in the Sheepshanks collection at the South Kensington Museum. He particularly excelled in his water-colour paintings, for which he was awarded a premium by the Society of Arts, and which have a freedom of execution and a character not to be found in his oil paintings. Among the latter exhibited at the Royal Academy and the Free Society of Artists were : 'A Storm, the Prince and Princess of Brunswick going over to Holland,' 'His Majesty reviewing the Fleet at Spithead,' 'Views of Lisbon, the Tagus, and Gibraltar,' 'View of Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight,' and numerous paintings of coast scenery at Portsmouth, Dover, &c., or reminiscences from his own or his brother's travels. Cleveley resided some time in Pimlico, but seems to have returned to Deptford before his death. He died 25 June 1786, in London, probably at Deptford.

[Redgrave's Dict. of English Artists; Graves's Dict. of Artists, 1760-1880; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. v. 176; Add. MSS. Brit. Mus. 15509-15512; Edwards's Anecdotes of Painters; Seventh Report of the Committee on Works of Art in Devonshire (Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, &c., 1886); Catalogues of the Royal Academy, Free Society of Artists, and National Art Gallery, South Kensington; Registers of St. Paul's, Deptford, per Rev. H. Gr. Gundy, D.D.]

L. C.