Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/De Critz, John

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

DE CRITZ, JOHN (d. 1641–2), sergeant-painter, was a Fleming by birth, and as a young man was patronised by Sir Francis Walsingham. In 1582 he was in Paris, and in communication with Walsingham, to whom, as he writes on 14 Oct., he sent various paintings as presents, including one of St. John and one of the story of Neptune and Cænis (Ovid Met. xii. 497). He was then purposing to spend the winter in France, and subsequently, with Walsingham's leave, to repair to Italy. He attained some note as a painter, since in the ‘Palladis Tamia,’ or ‘Wit's Treasury,’ by Francis Meres, published in 1598, he is extolled, in company with Nicholas Hilliard and Isaac Oliver, as very famous for his painting. In September 1603 he obtained the reversion of the office of sergeant-painter, then held by Leonard Fryer, at a salary of 10l. per annum, drawn from the petty customs of the port of London. On 23 March 1604 he was granted denization, and on 7 April of the same year he received a warrant to do all needful works about the king's ships. In 1605 he was employed by the king to paint the tomb erected by Maximilian Powtran, alias Colt [q. v.], to the memory of Queen Elizabeth, for which he was paid 100l.; and on 26 April was granted the office of sergeant-painter, of which he held the reversion, holding it jointly with Leonard Fryer. On 14 Feb. 1610 he was paid 330l. for works executed by him at Westminster. In 1612 he received payments for works at the funeral of Henry, prince of Wales, including ‘for painting his portrature, cl.’; this probably refers to the effigy carried in the procession (Brit. Mus. Lansd. MSS. 164). In 1620 Henry Holland published his ‘Heroologia Anglica,’ and from manuscript notes in a copy of this work (formerly in the possession of Sir James Winter Lake, bart.) it appears that three of the engraved portraits were done from paintings in the possession of John De Critz in the Strand, viz. those of Elizabeth, Sir Francis Walsingham, and Sir Philip Sidney. It is not unlikely that these portraits were by De Critz himself, as Walsingham was his patron, and Sir Philip Sidney was Walsingham's friend and son-in-law; Vertue also states that in the collection of Murray, the portrait-painter, he saw several drawings by De Critz, very well done, including one of Sir Philip Sidney, apparently done from the picture in De Critz's possession, and resembling a portrait then in the possession of the Earl of Oxford, and subsequently in that of the Earl of Chesterfield. Two pen drawings of heads similar to this were in Horace Walpole's collection, who prized them highly. Further notices of De Critz occur in the office books of the period; in 1630–1 he repaired and repainted the royal barges, and the court books of the Painter-Stainers' Company contain a letter from the Earl of Pembroke directing them to appoint certain persons of their hall to inspect and give an estimate of the work; in 1631–2 he received payments for repairing two pictures by Palma of ‘David and Goliath’ and ‘The Conversion of St. Paul,’ and for making frames for them; for repairing seven of the set of twelve Cæsars, by Titian, and for painting frames for the whole set; also 30l. for painting ‘a large story in oyle containing diverse naked figures in it bigger than life,’ and other payments for regilding and repainting the royal carriages, sun-dials, &c. On 25 Feb. 1638–9 he was paid a sum of 2,158l. 13s., which shows the extent to which his services were employed. At Oatlands he painted a large centrepiece in a ceiling and a chimneypiece, which were sold at the dispersal of Charles I's collections. De Critz died in February 1641–2, and was buried in St. Martin's-in-the-Fields. He seems to have had a brother, Thomas De Critz, who painted as well as himself, and may be the person of that name who acted as mace-bearer to the parliament. He also left two sons, John and Emmanuel De Critz. John De Critz, the younger, by his father's purchase, obtained on 6 May 1610 a grant of the reversion of the office of sergeant-painter, together with John Maunchi, in succession to his father and Robert Peake. He lost his life, however, in the king's service at Oxford. Emmanuel De Critz, the younger son, was also a painter, and assistant to his father, and succeeded to the office of sergeant-painter. He was largely employed in painting scenes for the masques, at that time so popular at court, and other decorative pieces. At the dispersal of Charles I's collections in 1650 he purchased a great number of pictures, statues, tapestry, &c., which he kept in his house at Austin Friars. Some of these, though duly paid for, and apparently including the bust of Charles I by Bernini, seem to have been detained by Cromwell, as De Critz with others petitioned the council of state in 1660 for their delivery. At the Restoration also he petitioned the king for reimbursement of these expenses, which amounted to more than 4,000l., and for reinstatement in his office. In 1657 he painted a portrait of Sergeant Sir John Maynard. A son or nephew of Emmanuel De Critz was also a painter, and was living in 1723; he taught Murray, the portrait-painter, who told Vertue that he had seen in De Critz's possession portraits of the three painters mentioned above. He is perhaps identical with the ‘Oliver de Crats, famous painter,’ whose portrait hangs in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford. At Wilton House the dining-room was richly gilded and painted ‘with story’ by De Critz, probably the first-named John De Critz (Evelyn, Diary).

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting, ed. Dallaway and Wornum; Calendar of State Papers, Dom. Ser. 1582–1660; Lowndes's Bibl. Man.; Vertue's MSS. (Brit. Mus. Addit. MSS. 23069 et seq.); Fine Arts Quarterly Review, new ser. ii.]

L. C.