Unknown - portrait of Henry Carvill

Although this miniature is unsigned, the sitter is identified on the reverse as "Henry Carvill 1825". The portrait is in a black ebonised frame and was purchased in America.

He is thought to be the Henry Carvill listed in the 1850 United States census as living in Philadelphia and aged 50. He was born in England and living with his wife and daughter at the home of Thomas Hulme, gentleman, and thus appears to be reasonably well off. This perhaps fits with the portrait if he is seen in that to be aged around 25, with the portrait was painted in 1825.

This may also be the same person as the Henry Carvel described a farmer aged 40 who arrived in Philadelphia from England in 1833.That suggests a birth date of 1793.

The artist is currently not known, and he could be either American or British. 1178

Much later - A kind visitor has provided some more information about a Henry Carvill who seems quite likely to be the same person, as it is not a common name; 

Attached is an image I was sent by a distant cousin.  Do you see any likeness to the miniature ?  I do but then it might be wishful thinking.

The Henry Carvill with Thomas Hulme was born in London in 1794 (making his age somewhat incorrect on the 1850).  He married Thomas Hulme’s daughter Mary Ann and they had one daughter Emma.  Henry was buried in Laurel Hill cemetery in 1878 aged 83 (back to his correct age).

There is some interesting historical context to this:

The likeness I sent you is of George William Carvill, nephew to Henry by his brother William.  The University of Missouri has a significant collection of letters from George William in its Historical Manuscripts, predominantly to his sister Eliza back in England, describing life in the US in the mid 1800s.

Thomas Hulme wrote a “Journal made During a Tour of the Western Countries of America” in 1818/19 which forms part of William Cobbett’s 1828 book.

Henry Carvill was in business with his brothers, George and Charles in an important publishing house on Broadway – G, C & H Carvill in the late 1820s and 1830s

Henry’s daughter Emma was mother to Henry Carvill Lewis – see the following link for a picture and one of his works…

As you can see, it is quite a link if it really is the same man.

It is obviously difficult to be sure, but I also feel I can see a likeness, especially with the hairline and nose. The corrected birth date of 1794 still seems to fit with him being 31 in 1825. It also fits with the date of the Henry Carvill mentioned above who arrived in America in 1833, perhaps after a visit to Britain. Although he was described as a farmer, that may have meant "gentleman farmer", as ordinary farmers could not afford portraits of this quality. Miniature portraits were expensive to commission and hence the sitter would need to be someone as well off as a publisher or lawyer.

However, it must be conceded that a Henry Carvill appears to have been resident in Philadelphia in 1826 as was advertised in the 1826 edition of the Franklin Journal of Philadelphia;
Very excellent gold powder of different shades of colour is manufactured by Mr Henry Carvill of this city.  
Whether this is a sign he lived for a while in Philadelphia, before becoming resident in New York is currently unclear.

Later Still - More clever detective work by the same kind visitor gives even stronger reason to believe that this portrait is of the publisher Henry Carvill. The visitor has since tracked down two auctions lots of September 2006 sold at Weiderseim Auctions;
Lot 198. Miniature portrait on ivory of Henry Carvill, 1825. 3”h. $500-$700 - Sold for $425 hammer price.
Lot 206. Silhouette of a girl “Emma H. Carvill, August 5th, 1839 [sic] New York” in a gilt frame. Site 7.5”x6” $125-$150 - Sold for $325 hammer price.
Emma Hulme Carvill was the daughter of my Henry Carvill and his wife Mary Ann Hulme and is with her parents on that 1850 image we talked about. It is surely too much of a coincidence to find them on sale at the same auction.

That is in fact the auction record for this Henry Carvill portrait, as it was purchased for this collection via eBay from Weiderseim Auctions. The reference to a silhouette of Emma H Carvill being offered at the same auction demonstrates they were closely related. Emma was born in Philadelphia on 16 March 1828. The auction description says 1839, but the image seems to says 1829 and that seems to fit better with her apparent age. She married Frederick Mortimer Lewis on 2 March 1852 and died on 24 July 1872. It therefore seems we can confirm that Henry Carvill was born 21 Jun 1794, christened 13 Dec 1801 at St Botolph without Aldersgate, London and he was the son of George Carvill and Susannah.

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