Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of Bartholomew Beale 1680s

Mary Beale (1633-99)

Portrait of Bartholomew Beale, Mary Beale
Oil on paper, laid on canvas
17th Century
14 1/2 x 11 inches 37 x 28 cm
Mary Beale was the most distinguished female portrait painter of the Stuart period. An outstanding painter of child portraits, she accords her children a tenderness that is entirely in keeping with the distinctively sympathetic characterisation of unrelated child portraits.

However, whilst the child portraits are, as a group, certainly amoung the most successful works (1), she further infuses this portrait with a sense of love and pride that denies the inevitable distance of commissioned artist and sitter. The warm light that suffeses the figure is reminiscent of Lely''s work of the 1660''s and adds greatly to Beale's distinctively attentive mood.

Mary painted numerous portraits of her family and household for her own study, and one could thus compare this work to a treasured photograph or keepsake. It is unlikely that she ever meant to sell such images which adds the the painting''s emotive value.

(1) E. Walsh and R Jeffree, The Excellent Mrs Mary Beale, (1975), page 15
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.