Sir Joseph Danvers (1686-1753)

Politician & Dog-Lover


Painted in 1747 at the age of sixty, this little portrait shows Sir Joseph Danvers in a grey collarless coat with deep cuffs, red waistcoat and powdered full-bottomed wig.

Born on Christmas Eve 1686, Joseph Danvers was the eldest son of Samuel and Elizabeth Danvers of Swithland, Leicestershire. He inherited the family estate at the age of seven upon the early death of his father. He also inherited estates in Oxfordshire when his mother’s second husband died in 1721. That same year he married Frances Babington with whom he had one son and four daughters though some of the girls died in infancy.

Labelled by Horace Walpole as ‘a rough rude beast’, Sir Joseph sat in Parliament as an independent MP for twenty-five years and was made a Baronet in 1746 upon his retirement.

Closer to home he established a school for poor boys and commissioned a new tower for his local church. It is there that he lies buried in a special tomb that was built partly within the graveyard and partly in the next field. This arrangement was to enable his favourite dog to be buried with him – animals were not permitted to be buried on consecrated ground. His son John succeeded him. He too had his eccentricities wearing only red and black and painting everything he could red!

Painted in oil on copper, the portrait is inscribed ‘Sir Jos Danvers / 1747 / Æt 60’. It is in fine condition and is set in the original turned pearwood frame (old chip to the outer rim at 1 o’clock).

Item Ref. 6933

Size: framed, 76 x 66mm