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John Hayls
Portrait drawing of John Hayls (from Walpole's "Anecdotes of painting", volume 2)
Died1679 (aged 78–79)
Nationality (legal)British
Known forportrait-painter

John Hayls, also Hailes (1600–1679), was an English Baroque-era portrait painter, principally known for his portrait of Samuel Pepys.

Life and work

Hayls was a contemporary and rival of Sir Peter Lely and Samuel Cooper. He was mentioned in the diary of Samuel Pepys where he is referred to as "Hales". An extract from 15 February 1665-6 reads, "Mr Hales began my wife's portrait in the posture we saw one of my Lady Peters, like a St. Katherine".[1]

Another extract of 17 March 1666 read:

" noon, home to dinner, and presently with my wife out to Hales's, where I am still infinitely pleased with my wife's picture. I paid him 14l for it, and 25s for the frame, and I think it is not a whit too dear for so good a picture. It is not yet quite finished and dry, so as to be fit to bring home yet. This day I begin to sit, and he will make me, I think, a very fine picture. He promises it shall be as good as my wife's, and I sit to have it full of shadows, and do almost break my neck looking over my shoulder to make the posture for him to work by."

Portrait of Samuel Pepys by "Mr Hales" (1666)

Pepys was, evidently, so pleased with his wife's portrait, that he commissioned a portrait of himself (see image), and also persuaded his father Thomas Pepys to sit for the artist. Pepys also mentioned that Hayls painted the actor Joseph Harris as Henry V.[1]

Hayls also painted portraits of Colonel John Russell (third son of Francis Russell, 4th Earl of Bedford), Lady Diana Russell, and the poet Thomas Flatman. He was known as a good copyist of the works of Van Dyck. He lived in Southampton Street, Bloomsbury, London, for some years, but then moved to a house in Long Acre, where he died suddenly in 1679.[1]

John Hoskins painted a limning of Hayls, a drawing of which was made by George Vertue (now in the British Museum) [1]


  1. ^ a b c d Cust 1891.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainCust, Lionel Henry (1891). "Hayls, John". In Stephen, Leslie; Lee, Sidney (eds.). Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 25. London: Smith, Elder & Co.

External links

8 Annotations

First Reading

David Ross McIrvine  •  Link

There are 2 people referred to as "Mr. Hales" (or "Hales") in this diary: all references from February 14, 1666 on to "Hales" or "Mr. Hales" are to the painter John Hayls.

David Ross McIrvine  •  Link

Pardon the self-follow-up:

Samuel paid 14 pounds for each portrait by *Hayls*, compared to 30 pounds for the miniature of his wife by Cooper.

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Not too high an opinion of Hayls

"Among his [artist Peter Lely's] contemporaries there are four who deserve particular attention, [John] Hayls, [Gerard] Soest, [Joseph] Wright, and [Jacob] Huysmans. ...

"Probably the oldest of these, and certainly the least important, is Hayls. He only comes alive to us in the pages of Pepys's *Diary,* and the portrait of 'Pepys' in the National Portrait Gallery [London] is certainly a version of one he was painting in 1666." Two portraits of the younger children of Montague Bertie, second Earl of Lindsey (Charles and Bridget), are attributed to him. They were painted around 1653. "[T]here is some likelihood, from a source in one of Richard Symonds's notebooks, that Hayls was in Rome in 1651. Other early attributions to Hayls remain puzzling."

-- Ellis Waterhouse, "Painting in Britain 1530-1790," 4th edition, 1978, pp. 100-101 (The Pelican History of Art series)

David Ross McIrvine  •  Link

{Not too high an opinion of Hayls}

Pepys agrees with that estimation of Hales's relative merits as a painter, in the diary entry of March 25, 1667:

"Called at Mr. Lilly's, who was working; and indeed his pictures are without doubt much beyond Mr. Hales's. . . ."

"Mr. Lilly" is the portrait-painter we know as Peter Lely.

vicente  •  Link

Gaunt and bills of mortality and the art of beggar ing.…
Of Particular Casualties.

1. MY first Observation is, That few are starved. This appears, for that of the 229250 which have died, we find not above fifty one to have been starved, excepting helpless Infants at Nurse, which being caused rather by carelessness, ignorance, and infirmity of the Milch-women, is not properly an effect, or sign of want of food in the Countrey, or of means to get it.
2. The Observation, which I shall add hereunto, is, That the vast numbers of Beggars, swarming up and down this City, do all live, and seem to be most of them healthy and strong; whereupon I make this Question, Whether, since they do all live by Begging, that is, without any kind of labour; it were not better for the State to keep them, even although they earned nothing; that so they might live regularly, and not in that Debauchery, as many Beggars do; and that they might be cured of their bodily Impotencies, or taught to work, &c. each according to his condition, and capacity; or by being employed in some work (not better undone) might be accustomed, and fitted for labour.…

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

Though the name or the works of Hayls are very little known, he is said to have been a rival of sir Peter Lely. His greatest excellence was in copying Vandyck. Ob. 1679.
---A Biographical History of England. J. Granger, 1775.

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