Beale, Mary (DNB00)

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BEALE, MARY (1632–1697), portrait painter, born in Suffolk in 1632, was the daughter of the Rev. J. Cradock, vicar of Walton-upon-Thames. She is said to have learned the rudiments of painting from Sir Peter Lely, but it is more probable, as Vertue thought, that she received instruction from Robert Walker, and only copied the works of Lely, who was supposed to have had a tender attachment to her, and through whose influence she obtained access to some of the finest works of Van Dyck, by copying which she acquired that purity of colouring for which her portraits are remarkable. She married Charles Beale, the lord of the manor of Walton, in Buckinghamshire, who had some employment under the board of green cloth, and took great interest in chemistry, especially the manufacture of colours, in which he did business with Lely and other painters of the day. His diaries, from 1672 to 1681, contain notes of matters connected with art and artists, and afford the fullest account of Mrs. Beale's life and works during that period. The extracts given by Walpole prove that she copied many of Lely's pictures, and some of these have doubtless been assigned to that painter. 'There were above thirty of these pocket-books, but the greater number appear to have been lost. Mrs. Beale was one of the best female portrait painters of the seventeenth century, and was employed by many of the most distinguished persons of her time. She painted in oil, water-colours, and crayons; her heads being very often surrounded by an oval border painted in imitation of carved stone. Her price was five pounds for a head, and ten pounds for a half-length. Mrs. Beale died in Pall Mall, London, 28 Dec. 1697, and was buried under the communion-table in St. James's Church. She was of an estimable character and very amiable manners, and had I among her contemporaries some reputation as a poet. Dr. Woodfall wrote several poems in her honour, under the name of Belesia. Her portrait, from a painting by herself, is engraved in the Strawberry Hill edition of Walpole's 'Anecdotes of Painting.' Portraits by her of King Charles II., Abraham Cowley, Archbishop Tillotson, and Henry, sixth duke of Norfolk, are in the National Portrait Gallery; another of Archbishop Tillotson is at Lambeth Palace; those of Dr. Sydenham and Dr. Croone are in the Royal College of Physicians; that of Bishop Wilkins is at the Royal Society; that of John Milton at Knole; that of James, duke of Monmouth, at Woburn Abbey; her own portrait is in the gallery of the Marquis of Bute; and other portraits by her are in the collections of Earl Spencer, the Duke of Rutland, and the Earl of Ilchester.

Mrs. Beale had two sons, Bartholomew, who commenced life as a portrait painter, but afterwards studied medicine under Dr. Sydenham, and practised at Coventry: and Charles, who followed his mother's branch of art. He was born 28 May 1660, and after studying under Thomas Flatman, the miniature painter and poet, assisted his mother in draperies and backgrounds. He painted portraits both in oil and in water-colours, and some few in crayons, but soon after 1689 he was compelled by weakness of sight to relinquish his profesion, and died in London, but in what year is not known. There are portraits of Archbishop Burton and Bishop Burnet engraved after him by Robert White.

[Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting (ed. Wornum), 1849, ii. 537-44; Scharf's Catalogue of National Portrait Gallery, 1884.]

R. E. G.