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John Wesley Jarvis, 1780 - 14 Jan 1840
Washington Irving, 3 Apr 1783 - 28 Nov 1859
Ink on paper
Image: 14.9 x 13.4cm (5 7/8 x 5 1/4")
Sheet: 34.3 x 25.3cm (13 1/2 x 9 15/16")
Mat: 45.7 x 35.6cm (18 x 14")
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of John Boyd
John Wesley Jarvis made this outdoor sketch of the young lawyer turned author Washington Irving in 1808. At the time, Irving was attracting attention for the breezy satirical journal Salmagundi, written and edited with his brother and James Kirke Paulding. The following year, Irving's History of New York by "Diedrich Knickerbocker" would firmly establish his literary reputation. While Irving distinguished himself as a man of letters, Jarvis launched his own career painting portraits of young New York literati. Although Irving jokingly described the artist as "one of the queerest, ugliest . . . little creatures in the world," he admired his work and hung his oil portrait by Jarvis in his home. This earlier sketch, once owned by Paulding, sets the future author of "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" within the Knickerbocker literary circle at the onset of his career.