Mary Beale, The Artist’s Son, Bartholomew Beale (1656–1707)

Photo courtesy of Tom St Aubyn (All rights reserved)


Country House
Raynham Hall
The Artist’s Son, Bartholomew Beale (1656–1707)
The King's Bedroom
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Overall height: 39.5 cm, Overall width: 32.5 cm
Mary Beale
Catalogue Number


Mary Beale (1633–1699) was one of the earliest professional female painters in Britain. She was a friend of Sir Peter Lely and was much influenced by his work. She married Charles Beale in 1652, who acted as her studio assistant, keeping notebooks which are revealing of her portrait painting business. They had two boys, Bartholomew (1656–1707) and Charles (1660–?1726). Beale painted many portraits of her friends and family, including a number of informal sketches, of which this present portrait is one. Comparison with other known portraits of children by Beale reveals that the likeness is of the artist’s eldest son, Bartholomew, with his slightly elongated cherubic face, deep blue eyes and golden curls.

The present portrait is closest in composition to Beale’s portrait of Bartholomew of c.1660 in the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut (B2016.24). The sitter looks slightly older than in the more finely worked-up sketches of Bartholomew in the Tate collection (T13246 and T13245) and the portrait as Young Bacchus in Bury St Edmunds (Moyses Hall Museum, 1993.45), which suggests the present sketch is likely to have been executed in the early 1660s.

by Emily Burns

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