Severn Eyre (1735-1773)

Date: ca. 1755-1759

This portrait has been attributed to Benjamin West. Severn Eyre’s son’s will corroborates the artist attribution. It is likely that Eyre was painted in Philadelphia, as West is not known to have traveled to Virginia and no other Virginia portraits are associated with him. Eyre had personal connections to Philadelphia and was likely introduced to West by a friend.

Reference: “I give and bequeath to my niece…also the portrait of my father Severn Eyre, taken by Benjamin West” in the Will of John Eyre (1768-1855), in Northampton County, Virginia, Will Book 39, p.22.

Dimensions: 45 1/2 x 37 1/4 in. (115.57 x 94.62 cm.)

The subject wears a brown suit with a black ribbon behind his neck. His bare right hand is on his hip. His left hand is gloved and holds his other glove along with a walking stick. A dog appears at his side. Beyond him is a landscape. In the distance is a dark horse with a groom and a riderless white horse. He is turned three-quarters to his left.

See: Carolyn J. Weekley, Painters and Paintings in the Early American South (2013), 5.
I would like to thank Dr. Carl Lounsbury for sharing his research on Severn Eyre and his connections to Philadelphia and Benjamin West.

Family: Eyre
Decade: 1750s
Credits: Private collection.