Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of the Artist's son, Charles Beale (1660 - 1714) 1680s

Mary Beale (1633-99)

Portrait of the Artist's son, Charles Beale (1660 - 1714), Mary Beale
Oil on canvas
17th Century
18 x 15 inches 45.7 x 38.1 cm
Mary Beale was the most distinguished female portrait painter of the Stuart period. An outstanding painter of child portraits, she accords her son 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 among the most successful works''(l), 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 suffuses the figure is reminiscent of Lely's work of the 1660's and adds greatly to Beale's distinctively attentive mood:
Charles Beale was born to Mary and her husband Charles on 28th May 1660.

After studying under Thomas Flatman, a miniaturist and poet, he assisted in painting his mother's drapery and backgrounds, but what looked to become a successful career as a portraitist was cut short as his sight failed soon after 1689. 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 to the painting''s emotive value.

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