Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Comerford, John

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1321204Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 11 — Comerford, John1887Lionel Henry Cust ‎

COMERFORD, JOHN (1762?–1832?), miniature-painter, the son of a flax-dresser, was born at Kilkenny. He gained some knowledge of art from copying the pictures in the collection of the Marquis of Ormonde. He went early in life to Dublin, and entered as a student in the art schools of the Dublin Society. He exhibited in London at the Royal Academy in 1804 and 1809. He was very successful and gained a high reputation as a miniature-painter in Dublin, and had a large and lucrative practice in his art. He particularly excelled in his male portraits, which were carefully finished, well expressed, and quiet in colour. Some examples of his work were exhibited at the Special Exhibition of Portrait Miniatures in 1865, including portraits of Lady Sarah Lennox, Mr. Burgoyne, and Mr. William Fletcher, the latter in college dress. There is a miniature by him of an English military officer in the South Kensington Museum. In 1819 the Dublin Society of Artists, which had been for some years torn by internal dissensions, applied for a charter of incorporation. This was actively opposed, and Comerford was selected by the opposers, as being a man of good repute and much respected, to write to Sir Robert Peel, then chief secretary for Ireland, explaining the reason for opposition. The controversy ended in the complete defeat of Comerford and his friends, and the society obtained their charter in 1821. He died in Dublin of apoplexy in 1832 or 1833, aged between sixty and seventy years. He drew for Sir Jonah Barrington [q. v.] many portraits of leading Irishmen, which were engraved by J. Heath in Barrington's 'Historic Anecdotes, and Secret Memoirs relative to the Legislative Union between Great Britain and Ireland.'

[Redgrave's Dict. of English Artists; Graves's Dict. of Artists, 1760-1880; Sarsfield Taylor's Fine Arts in Great Britain and Ireland; Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of Portrait Miniatures, 1865; Royal Academy Catalogues.]

L. C.