Life and work
Beach was born at Milton Abbas, Dorset in 1738. From an early age he showed a strong predilection for art, and under the patronage of Lord Dorchester's family, became, in 1760, a pupil of Sir Joshua Reynolds, studying at the same time at St. Martin's Lane Academy. He then settled at the fashionable resort of Bath, where he was much in demand for his portraits and portrait groups, which were usually of a small size.
He was a member of the Incorporated Society of Artists, and a contributor to its exhibitions from 1772 to 1783. From 1785 he exhibited yearly at the Royal Academy until 1790, but not again until 1797, when he was living at Strand-on-the-Green, near Kew in London, and sent a portrait of the Prince of Wales.
Beach died at Dorchester on 17 December 1806.
The National Portrait Gallery has a portrait by Beach of William Woodfall, the earliest parliamentary reporter. Portraits of Sir Edward Wilmot, bart., M.D., and Richard Tattersall, the horse dealer who established 'Tattersall's, were exhibited in the National Portrait Exhibition of 1867. In 1787 he painted Mrs. Siddons and John Kemble in the Dagger Scene in Macbeth, of which the great tragic actress wrote, "My brother's head is the finest I have ever seen, and the likest of the two". Several of Beach's portraits were engraved in mezzotint by William Dickinson, Valentine Green, Richard Houston, and John Jones.
This article incorporates text from the article "BEACH, Thomas" in Bryan's Dictionary of Painters and Engravers by Michael Bryan, edited by Robert Edmund Graves and Sir Walter Armstrong, an 1886–1889 publication now in the public domain.
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