Sir Henry William BEECHEY
(Burford, 1753 – Hampstead, 1839)
Portrait of a man
Oil on canvas
76,5 x 64 cm
Former GRANDPIERRE collection
Former collection Princess FAUCIGNY-LUSINGE
Sale in Paris, Hotel Drouot, Ader Picard Tajan, June 16, 1987, n ° 14
Sale in Paris, Hotel Drouot, Couturier-Nicolay study, June 10, 1988, n ° 61
BEECHEY was born in Burford, Oxfordshire, on December 12, 1753, son of William BEECHEY, lawyer, and his wife Hannah READ. Both parents died while still very young. So he and his siblings were raised by his uncle, a lawyer who lived in nearby Chipping Norton.
Predestined to a career as a lawyer, BEECHEY entered the Royal Academy in 1772, where he studied under Johann Joseph ZOFFANY (1733-1810). He exhibited for the first time at the Academy in 1776 and will do it regularly until his death. In 1782 he moved to Norwich, where he obtained several commissions from the aristocracy and local celebrities. In 1787, BEECHEY is back on London. His portraits of the time are part of the tradition of Sir Joshua REYNOLDS (1723-1792) from whom he probably attended the workshop.
In 1793 he was appointed portrait painter of Queen Charlotte, whose portrait he had just finished, and an associate member of the Royal Academy. He was appointed definitive member in 1798 and knighted the same year, after having realized his masterpiece: Revue de Cavalry, representing King George III, the Prince of Wales and Prince Frederick with their staff. This large painting was unfortunately destroyed in the fire at Windsor Castle in 1992. His portraits, full of sensitivity and sometimes romantic, quickly give him a considerable reputation. BEECHEY owes much of the portraits of the members of the royal family and almost all the celebrities of his time as Lord Nelson, Pascal PAOLI or the then theater actors John KEMBLE and Sarah SIDDONS.
In 1804, BEECHEY falls out of favor probably because of the state of health of King George III. BEECHEY's portraits of this turn of the century are considered today as her most colorful and alive. They are closer to the flamboyant and free techniques used by his younger colleagues, John HOPPNER and Sir Thomas LAWRENCE.
Royal patronage resumed around 1813 when BEECHEY was appointed portrait painter of Prince William Frederick, Duke of Gloucester, and his appointment was confirmed in 1830 as a portraitist of King William IV.
After selling the contents of his studio and collection at Christie's on June 9 and 11, 1836, the artist retired to the London neighborhood of Hampstead where he died almost three years later on January 28, 1839.
William BEECHEY had eighteen children from two marriages, many of whom were famous in their time: an Egyptologist, a geographer and politician, a painter and admiral ...
In 1907 W. ROBERTS published a monograph entitled Sir William Beechey, R.A., including the order book and the catalog of his works exhibited during his lifetime.
Museums: Cardiff, Hanover, London (Gal Nat., Tate, Dulwich College Gal.), Melbourne, Salford, Paris (Louvre), New York (Met.Museum of Art) ...