Haverty, Joseph (1794–1864), portrait and subject painter, was born in Galway. Nothing is known of his early life and artistic training. In 1814 he submitted a painting from Galway to the Hibernian Society of Artists exhibition in Dublin, and by the following year he had taken up residence in the city. There he established himself as a painter of portraits. He was elected an associate member of the RHA at its founding (1823) and was a regular contributor to the annual exhibition until 1861, despite the fact that, having become a full member in 1829, he resigned from the RHA in 1837. He also lived for periods at Rostrevor, Co. Down, and in Limerick. He spent some time in London, where twenty-seven portraits by him were shown at the RA between 1835 and 1858. He also exhibited with the Society of British Artists.
His early work is characterised by a romantic style in which the influence of Sir David Wilkie (1785–1841) is evident. As he progressed, he tended towards a greater realism as he dealt with themes from contemporary Irish life. These paintings, such as ‘The blind piper’ (NGI; also known as ‘The Limerick piper’), often have nationalist political overtones. This painting, of which more than one version exists, is one of his best-known works, having been popularised through engravings in the nineteenth century. Indeed, Haverty was closely associated with the catholic cause through the patronage of Daniel O'Connell (qv) of whom he painted many portraits, examples of which may be found in the Reform Club, London, and in the City Hall, Limerick. Several other versions were painted for branches of the National Bank of Ireland, as a result of O'Connell's close involvement in its establishment. However, these works no longer survive. His painting ‘O'Connell and his contemporaries; the Clare election, 1828’ (NGI), is typical of Haverty's style in the static nature of the composition, despite its showing a large crowd.
He is significant among Irish artists of his time for the number of religious works he painted, as such commissions tended to go to foreign artists. Though he is recorded as executing a number of altarpieces, none of these is now known. He also made lithographs after his own work, notably his series of the seven sacraments (1830), as well as a number of his portraits. Many of his genre scenes also are of a moral and religious nature, such as ‘Father Mathew receiving a repentant pledge-breaker’ (NGI). On occasion he dealt with subjects from mythology such as ‘Cupid and Psyche’ (exhibited at the Hibernian Society of Artists, 1815), and history, exhibiting ‘The baptism of Ethelbert’ at the RHA in 1846.
He died 27 July 1864 at his home, 44 Rathmines Road, Dublin, and was buried at Glasnevin cemetery. He married in 1816 and is recorded by Strickland as having had a large family. His second son, Thomas (b. c.1825), practised as a portrait painter for a time in the 1840s and 1850s.