Corvus, Joannes (DNB00)

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CORVUS, JOANNES (fl. 1512–1544), portrait painter, has recently been identified with Jan Rave, a native of Bruges, received master in that town in 1512, who subsequently came to England, and, like many of his fellow-countrymen, latinised his name. Vertue was the first to discover the fact of his existence, by finding the inscription ‘Joannes Corvus Flandrus faciebat’ on the frame of a portrait of Bishop Fox, the founder, at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, which he engraved for Fiddes's ‘Life of Cardinal Wolsey.’ In 1820 this portrait was placed in a new and gorgeous frame, and the old frame was destroyed. Vertue's statement is fortunately authenticated by the existence of a portrait of Mary Tudor, the daughter of Henry VII, which has a frame and inscription similar to that of Bishop Fox, as described by Vertue. This picture, after being ‘restored’ extensively while in the hands of dealers, was in the possession of the Des Vœux family, and subsequently in the Dent collection. In this portrait a peculiarity of execution occurs which is characteristic of Corvus's work; there is a groundwork of gold showing through the colour of the dress, which is painted over it. This makes it certain that the striking portrait of Princess (afterwards Queen) Mary in the National Portrait Gallery (dated 1544) is the work of Corvus, and it may safely be identified with the entry in the ‘Privy Purse Expenses of the Princess Mary’ (edited by Sir F. Madden), ‘1544: Itm, pd to one John that drue her grace in a table, v li.’ The portrait of Henry Grey, duke of Suffolk, in the same collection, may for similar reasons be ascribed to Corvus, who can claim a high place in the ranks of the portrait painters of that age.

[Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting (ed. Dallaway and Wornum); A. J. Wauters's Flemish School of Painting; Archæologia, xxxix, Additional Observations, by G. Scharf, F.S.A., on some of the Painters contemporary with Holbein; Cat. of the National Portrait Gallery, 1884; information from George Scharf, C.B., F.S.A.]

L. C.