Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 58.djvu/257

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Verelst
Verelst
249

trading, and he was ultimately obliged to retire to the continent. Verelst's prosecutions were prompted by Willem Bolts [q. v.], who had been dismissed and sent to England by him. On 15 Dec. 1774 he was condemned to pay 5,000l. damages, with costs, for false imprisonment in one case; in another the following day 4,000l., and similar cases were afterwards decided against him. He died at Boulogne on 24 Oct. 1785, and was buried at Minster in the island of Thanet. He married, in 1771, Ann, daughter and coheiress of Josiah Wordsworth of Wadworth, near Doncaster. By her he had four sons and five daughters. Verelst was a man of strict integrity and great industry, and his judgment was highly valued by Clive, his intimate friend, who, however, seems to have thought him wanting in firmness.

In reply to Bolts's attack on the Bengal administration Verelst published in 1772 a quarto volume entitled ‘A View of the Rise, Progress, and Present State of the English Government in Bengal.’ The work is of value not merely as a successful refutation of the charges made against himself and other officials, but also for its statistical information and the historical documents printed in its copious appendices. Moreover, its lucid style and general impartiality commended it to succeeding historians, such as Mill, Malcolm, and McCulloch.

[Gent. Mag. 1785, ii. 920; European Mag. p. 394; Hunter's Deanery of Doncaster, ii. 166; Verelst's View of Bengal; Mill's Hist. of British India, ed. Wilson, 4th ed. iii. 308–9, 392, 413 et seq., 431–2, 450; Malcolm's Memoirs of Clive, chs. xiii–xvii.; McCulloch's Lit. of Pol. Economy, p. 104; Ann. Reg. 1774 pp. 170–1, 1775 p. 97, 1776 p. 120, 1778 p. 191; S. Nicol and T. Davie v. Verelst and others, 1775, fol.; see arts. Bolts, Willem, and Clive, Robert, Lord.]

G. Le G. N.

VERELST, SIMON (1644–1721?), flower and portrait painter, born at the Hague in 1644, was younger son of Pieter Verelst, a painter, originally of Antwerp. The name of Vander Elst or Van der Helst, shortened into Verelst, was well known in Holland, especially at Dordrecht, where Pieter Verelst first settled. He painted portraits and also small peasant scenes in the manner of Ostade, Sorgh, and other painters, for whose works his pictures have often been mistaken. In 1642 he settled at The Hague, where he became a prominent member of the guild of St. Luke, of which his sons, Harmen and Simon, were also members in 1666. Simon Verelst excelled in flower-painting, his works being remarkable for their finish and exactness, and as rivalling those of the famous flower-painter of that date, Rachel Ruysch. He seems to have come to London in 1669, and lodged near Jan Looten [q. v.] in St. James's market, where he was seen by Samuel Pepys. In his diary for 11 April 1669, Pepys says that he visited Looten, who ‘by accident did direct us to a painter that was then in the house with him, a Dutchman, newly come over, one Evereest [sic], who took us to his lodging close by, and did show us a little flower-pot of his drawing, the finest thing that ever, I think, I saw in my life; the drops of dew hanging on the leaves, so as I was forced again and again to put my finger to it, to feel whether my eyes were deceived or no. He do ask 70l. for it; I had the vanity to bid him 20l. But a better picture I never saw in my whole life, and it is worth going twenty miles to see it.’ Verelst's flower-paintings were quickly the fashion of the day. The second Duke of Buckingham urged him to attempt portraiture, and he painted a small portrait of the duke surrounded with fruit and flowers. The novelty of treatment became fashionable, and Verelst's services were eagerly competed for by the court and nobility (cf. Peck, Desiderata Cur. 1732, bk. vi. p. 44). Portraits with floral accessories conspicuous in the composition are frequently met with in private collections. One of the Duchess of Portsmouth is at Hampton Court. Verelst became inordinately vain and conceited, and regarded himself as the god of flowers and a king of painters. Matthew Prior celebrated his paintings in verse. The Earl of Shaftesbury, however, was so much disgusted with Verelst's behaviour that he declined to sit to him. At last Verelst's excessive conceit produced a disordered mind, and he was placed in confinement. Although he recovered partially, he lost his vogue as an artist, and died in Suffolk Street about 1721. Six portraits, including the king and queen, were in James II's collection. In 1685 Verelst was employed at Windsor to paint the portrait of the Duchess of Norfolk, and was subsequently an important witness in the suit brought by her husband against the duchess for criminal conversation with Sir John Germaine.

Harmen Verelst (1643?–1700?), painter, elder brother of the above, painted portraits and flowers. He resided till 1667 at the Hague, and then removed to Amsterdam. Subsequently he visited France and Italy, and settled for some time in Vienna. Towards the close of his life, about 1683, he came to England, and died in London about 1700. He is said to have been buried in St. An-