Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of Mrs Frances Elizabeth Addington (1788-1828) 1815

Sir William Beechey RA (1753-1839)

Portrait of Mrs Frances Elizabeth Addington (1788-1828), Sir William Beechey
Oil on canvas
19th Century
35 1/2 x 27 1/4 inches 90 x 69 cm
The sitter''s son, the Rev. Henry Addington (1820-83) of Henlow Grange, Bedfordshire. His eldest daughter, Frances Eliza Raynsford who married in 1882, Albert Cameron MacPherson of Cluny Castle, Kingussie, Inverness. With Reinhardt, New York, 1928 Collection of Mr and Mrs van Horn Ely. Collection of Mr and Mrs Alfred Zantzinger; by whom given to the Phoenix Art Museum. Private Collection, USA.
In the dazzling clarity of this portrait of Frances Elizabeth Addington Beechey reveals himself as equal to Lawrence in producing images that epitomise early Regency glamour.

The rivalry of the two artists - fuelled by reports in the press - was played out to the public at the annual Royal Academy exhibitions and Beechey's response to Lawrence is evident in the bravura and vivacity of the palette and brushwork. This masterful handling of paint, enhanced by areas of thick impasto and prominent pentimenti, combine with the highly distinctive sense of charactersiation to give the picture a highly striking sense of drama and poise.

Frances and her husband, a distinguished professional naval officer, were painted c.1805 at around the time of their marriage. (1) Beechey was a particular favourite with naval patrons, painting portraits of a large number of naval officers including Sir Samuel Hood, Earl St Vincent and Lord Nelson. The sitter was wife of Captain William Silvester Addington RN (1783-1863) of Goldington, near Bedford, whose family owned extensive land in the area during the second half of the 18th Century. Willliam''s father, Silvester Addington, married Ann, the daughter of Bartholomew Best of Goldington, a grazier and a gentleman, in 1782 and their eldest son, William Silvester, was born the following year.

At the age of 16, William entered the Royal Navy on board the Penelope under the command of Captain Hon. Charles Paget (2). In 1807 he was promoted to Lieutenant and in October 1810 he sailed in command of the Orion transport with combustibles intended for the destruction of the Toulon fleet. From April to September 1811 he next had charge of the Delphine fire-brig in the Adriatic. In August 1827 he was appointed to the Prince Regent in which ship he continued prior to his advancement to the rank of Commander on the 22nd July 1830.

After Silvester Addington's death in 1811, the family''s fortunes went into decline. In 1817 their residence Goldington House and its estate were put up for auction where it was described:

The Mansion House is modern, substantially built, and well adapted for the Residence of a respectable Family, standing in a delightful situation, a short distance from the Turnpike Road....near and adjoinging the mansion, are suitable and attached offices, and a complete farm homestead. The Grounds surrounding the Mansion-House, are judiciously planted, and much valuable Timber is growing thereon. (3)

William and his wife, Frances Elizabeth moved into Goldington Lodge and a son, Henry was born on 20th July 1820. Frances pre-deceased her husband and was buried at Goldington on 13th June 1828.

(1) The portrait of her husband was with Agnews in 1934 and was later in the collection of Percy R Pyne.

(2) William R O'Byrne, A Naval Biographical Dictionary, 1849 p.5.

(3) Bedfordshire Records Office, CRT 130/1. p.3.
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.