Oliver, Peter

, son and disciple of the preceding, was born in 1601, and by the precepts and example of his father, he arrived at a degree of perfection in miniature portrait painting confessedly superior to his instructor, or any of his contemporaries, as he did not confine his subjects to a head only. His pictures, like his father’s, are spread among the houses of the nobility and gentry, and are alike justly esteemed. The works which he executed upon a larger scale are much more valuable than those of his father, and are also more numerous, though not very frequently to be met with. L6rd Orford mentions that there were thirteen works of Peter Oliver in the collection of Charles I. and of James II.; and that seven of them are preserved in queen Caroline’s closet at Kensington; and he also speaks of a portrait of Mrs. Oliver by her husband, in possession of the duchess of Portland, as his finest work. Lord Orford thinks it extraordinary that more of the works of this excellent master are not known, as he commonly made duplicates of his pictures, reserving one of each for himself. On this subject, he adds, that Russel the painter, related to or connected with the Olivers, told Vertue a remarkable story. The greater part of the collection of king Charles I. being dispersed in the troubles, among which were several of the Olivers, Charles II. who remembered, and was desirous of recovering them, made many inquiries about them after the Restoration; at last, he was told by one Rogers of Islevvorth, that both the father and son were dead, but that the son’s widow was living at | Isleworth, and had many of their works. The king went very privately and unknown with Rogers, to see them; the widow shewed several finished and unfinished; with many of which the king being pleased, he asked if she would sell them; she replied she had a mind the king should see them first, and if he did not purchase them, she should think of disposing of them. The king discovered himself; on which she produced some more pictures, which she seldom shewed. The king desired her to set a price she said she did not care to make a price with his majesty she would leave it to him but promised to look over her husband’s books, and let his majesty know what prices his father, the late king, had paid. The king took away what he liked, and sent Rogers to Mrs. Oliver with the options of \OOOl. or an annuity of 30Q/. for her life. She chose the latter. Some years afterwards it happened that the king’s mistresses having begged aril or most of these pietures r Mrs. Oliver said, on hearing it, that if she had thought the king would have given them to such whores and strutn* pets and bastards, he never should have had them. This reached the court, the poor woman’s salary was stopped* and she never received it afterwards. The rest of the Winnings which the king had not taken, fell into the hands of Mrs. Russel’s father. Peter Oliver is supposed to have died before the restoration, probably about 1654. Isaac Oliver, the glass -painter, appears to have been of this family. 1


Walpole’s Anecdotes.