Mary Beale

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Mary Beale, Self-portrait

Mary Beale (née Cradock; 26 March 1633 – 1699) was one of the most successful professional female Baroque era portrait painters of the late 17th century due to her perseverance of her business. Praised by Richard Gibson and court painter Peter Lely, she is considered as successful as Joan Carlile.[citation needed] Joan Carlile was also an English portrait painter who was one of the first women to practice painting professionally Mary Beale managed to be the financial provider for her family through her professional portrait business. Her book Observations, although it was never officially published, was one of the first instructional books ever written by a woman and boldly announced her authority on painting. Mary Beale stood apart from other women due to her outspokenness and successful business that allowed her to be the breadwinner of the family.

Early life[edit]

Mary Cradock was born in Suffolk, England in late March.[1] She was baptized on 26 March 1633 by her father John Cradock in the rectory of St Paul's Church in Barrow, Suffolk. Her mother was Dorothy; her maiden name is illegible on her marriage record to John Cradock{citation needed}. Aside from being a rector, John Cradock was also an amateur painter, who may have taught Mary how to paint. It was common for fathers to teach their daughters how to paint at the time {citation needed}. Growing up in Barrow, Mary lived close to Bury St Edmunds. A group of painters worked in Bury St Edmunds, including Peter Lely and Matthew Snelling, whom Mary may have met in her youth. On 23 August 1643, John and Dorothy Cradock gave birth to a son named John. Dorothy died not too long after the birth of John. During the Civil War, John Cradock appointed Walter Cradock, a distant cousin of his, as guardian of his children John and Mary.[2]

Mary Cradock met Charles Beale, a cloth merchant who was also an amateur painter, during a visit to the Heighams of Wickhambrook, who were related to the Yelverton and Beale families{citation needed}. Charles Beale wrote her a passionate love letter and poem on 25 July of an unknown year. Mary Cradock married Charles Beale on 8 March 1651/2 at the age of eighteen. Given that John Cradock was gravely ill at the time and died a few days after Mary's marriage. The couple moved to Walton-on-Thames at some point afterward.[3] Charles Beale was a Civil Service Clerk at the time, but eventually became Mary's studio manager once she became a professional painter.[4] At some point, Charles was working for the Board of Green Cloth where he mixed colour pigments.[5] Throughout their marriage, Mary and Charles worked together as equals and as business partners, which was not often seen at the time.[6] On 18 October 1654 Charles and Mary's first son, Bartholomew, was buried. Little else is known about their first son. Their second son was baptized on 14 February 1655/6 and also named Bartholomew.[7] Their third son Charles was born in 1660.[8]

Her husband, the painter Charles Beale the Elder, by Mary Beale

A Professional Businesswoman[edit]

The most common way to learn how to paint at the time was to copy great works and masterpieces that were accessible {citation needed}. Mary Beale preferred to paint in oil and water colours.{British English} {Citation needed} Whenever she did a drawing, she would draw in crayon {Citation needed}. Peter Lely, who succeeded Anthony van Dyck as the court painter, took a great interest in Mary's progress as an artist, especially since she would practice painting by imitating some of his work.[9] Mary Beale started working by painting favours for people she knew in exchange for small gifts or favors.[10] Charles Beale kept close record of everything Mary did as an artist. He would take notes on how she painted, what business transactions took place, who came to visit, and what praise she would receive. Charles wrote thirty notebooks worth of observations over the years, calling Mary "my dearest heart".[11] She became a semi-professional portrait painter in the 1650s and 1660s, working from her home, first in Covent Garden and later in Fleet Street.[12]

Writings[edit]

In 1663, Mary Beale published Observations. It is a non-published piece of instructional writing that starts by critiquing how to paint apricots. Observations also shows a good partnership and collaboration effort between Mary and Charles. It boldly declared Mary Beale as an artist to remember. Mary Beale also wrote a manuscript called Discourse on Friendship in 1666 and four poems in 1667.[13]

The Business of Painting[edit]

The key for a female to become a successful professional painter was to earn a good reputation.{original research} It could be easy to misconstrue strangers entering a woman's home for a business transaction as something that would portray the woman in an impure light {original research}. Once Mary did start painting for money in the 1670s, she carefully picked who she would paint and used the praise of her circle of friends to build a good reputation as a painter.[14] Some of these people included Queen Henrietta Maria and John Tillotson, a clergyman from St James' Church, a close friend of Mary Beale who eventually became the Archbishop of Canterbury. It may be due to Mary's father, John, who was a rector, or her close connection to Tillotson that kept the clergymen of St James' as consistent customers.{original research} Mary's connection to Tillotson as well as her strong Puritan marriage to Charles worked in her favour in building up her good reputation.[15] Mary Beale typically charged five pounds for a painting of a head and ten pounds for half of a body for oil paintings. She made about two hundred pounds a year and gave ten percent of her earnings to charity. This income was enough to support her family, and she did so.[16] Needless to say, it is truly remarkable that Mary Beale was responsible for being the breadwinner of the family.[17]

In 1681, Mary Beale took on two students, Keaty Trioche and Mr. More, who worked with her in the studio. In 1691, Sarah Curtis from Yorkshire became another student of Mary's. Sarah had similar behaviours and dispositions as Mary.[18] Mary Beale died on 8 October 1699. Her death was mistaken for the death of Mary Beadle, whose recorded death is on 28 December 1697.[19] Not much is known about her death besides that she died in a house on Pall Mall and was buried under the communion table of St James' Church.[20]

Her son Bartholomew Beale (1656-1709), by Sir Peter Lely, circa 1670

The Beale Children[edit]

Charles and Bartholomew Beale helped with work in the studio in their youth, where they painted draperies and sculpted ovals; these ovals were a critical piece in Mary Beale's head portraits. Young Charles Beale, the third son and named after his father, showed great talent in painting and went to study miniature painting on 5 March 1677. He enjoyed painting miniature sculptures from 1679 to 1688, when his eyesight started to fail him. From then on, he worked on full scale portraits. Bartholomew Beale, the second son, started with painting but instead turned to medicine. In 1680, he studied at Clare Hall, Cambridge and graduated MB in 1682. Bartholomew set up his medical practice on a small property in Coventry, which his father owned.[18]

Praise and criticism[edit]

Mary Beale's paintings are often described as "vigorous" and "masculine". (It was common to praise a woman or her work by calling her "masculine".) The colour is seen as pure, sweet, natural, clear, and fresh, although some critics see her colouring as "heavy and stiff". Due to copying Italian masterpieces as practice, Mary Beale is said to have acquired "an Italian air and style". Not too many could compete with her "colour, strength, force, or life". Sir Peter Lely admired Beale's work, saying she "worked with a wonderful body of colour, and was exceedingly industrious." Others criticize her work as weak in expression and finish with disagreeable colours and poorly rendered hands.[21] It is sometimes described as "scratchy" with a "limited colour palette" and too closely imitates the work of Lely. Some of her work can be found on display in the Geffrye Museum in London, England.[22]

Beale was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Geffrye Museum in 1975, which transferred to the Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne the following year.[23]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Draper, Helen (Oct 2012). "'"Her Painting of Apricots': The Invisibility of Mary Beale (1633-1699)". Forum for Modern Language Studies. 48 (4): 393. doi:10.1093/fmls/cqso23. Retrieved May 3, 2016. 
  2. ^ Beale, Mary; Walsh, Elizabeth; Jeffree, Richard; Sword, Richard (1975). Citation Title: "The excellent Mrs. Mary Beale" : 13 October-21 December 1975, Geffrye Museum, London, 10 January-21 February 1976, Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne : catalogue / by Elizabeth Walsh and Richard Jeffree ; with introd. by Sir Oliver Millar ; and special contributions by Margaret Toynbee and Richard Sword ; exhibition designed by Richard Sword. London: Inner London Education Authority. p. 9. ISBN 0708500072. 
  3. ^ Jeffree, Richard; Beale, Mary; Walsh, Elizabeth; Sword, Richard (1975). The Excellent Mrs. Mary Beale. London: Inner London Education Authority. p. 10. ISBN 0708500072. 
  4. ^ Draper, Hellen (Oct 2012). "'Her Painting of Apricots': The Invisibility of Mary Beale (1633-1699)". Forum for Modern Language Studies. 48 (4): 390. doi:10.1093/fmls/cqso23. ISSN 0015-8518. Retrieved May 12, 2016. 
  5. ^ Clayton, Ellen C. (1876). English Female Artists. London: Tinsley Bros. p. 42. Retrieved May 3, 2016. 
  6. ^ Millar, Oliver (Jan 2000). "Mary Beale. London". The Burlington Magazine. 142: 48–49. Retrieved May 3, 2016. 
  7. ^ Beale, Mary; Walsh, Elizabeth; Jeffree, Richard; Sword, Richard (1975). The Excellent Mrs. Mary Beale. London: Inner London Education Authority. p. 11. ISBN 0708500072. 
  8. ^ Clayton, Ellen C. (1876). "English Female Artists". London: Tinsley Bros: 41. Retrieved May 12, 2016. 
  9. ^ Clayton, Ellen C. (1876). English Female Artists. London: Tinsley Bros. p. 42. 
  10. ^ Draper, Hellen (Oct 2012). "'HER PAINTING OFAPRICOTS': THE INVISIBILITY OF MARY BEALE (1633- 1699).". Forum for Modern Language Studies. 48 (4): 392. doi:10.1093/fmls/cqso23. ISSN 0015-8518. Retrieved May 12, 2012. 
  11. ^ Clayton, Ellen C (1876). English Female Artists. London: Tinsley Bros. p. 46. 
  12. ^ "Mary Beale | National Museum of Women in the Arts". nmwa.org. Retrieved 2016-02-25. 
  13. ^ Draper, Hellen (Oct 2012). "'HER PAINTING OF APRICOTS': THE INVISIBILITY OF MARY BEALE (1633-1699)". Forum for Modern Language Studies. 48 (4): 392. doi:10.1093/fmls/cqso23. ISSN 0015-8518. Retrieved May 12, 2016. 
  14. ^ Draper, Hellen (Oct 2012). "'HER PAINTING OF APRICOTS': THE INVISIBILITY OF MARY BEALE (1633-1699)". Forum For Modern Language Studies. 48 (4): 392. doi:10.1093/fmls/cqso23. ISSN 0015-8518. Retrieved May 12, 2016. 
  15. ^ Clayton, Ellen C (1876). English Female Artists. London: Tinsley Bros. p. 44. 
  16. ^ Clayton, Ellen C. (1876). English Female Artists. London: Tinsley Bros. pp. 45–46. 
  17. ^ Mary, Beale; Walsh, Elizabeth; Jeffree, Richard; Sword, Richard (1975). The Excellent Mrs. Mary Beale. London: Inner London Education Authority. p. 3. ISBN 0708500072. 
  18. ^ a b Beale, Mary; Walsh, Elizabeth; Jeffree, Richard; Sword, Richard (1975). The Excellent Mrs. Mary Beale. London: Inner London Education Authority. p. 15. ISBN 0708500072. 
  19. ^ Walsh, Elizabeth (July 1948). "Mary Beale". The Burlington Magazine. 90. Retrieved May 3, 2016. 
  20. ^ Clayton, Ellen C. (1876). English Female Artists. London: Tinsley Bros. p. 52. 
  21. ^ Clayton, Ellen C. (1876). English Female Artists. London: Tinsley Bros. p. 43. 
  22. ^ Millar, Oliver (Jan 2012). "Mary Beale. London". The Burlington Magazine. 142: 48–49. Retrieved May 3, 2016. 
  23. ^ Exhibition catalogue The Excellent Mrs Beale

Bibliography[edit]

  • Beale, Mary; Walsh, Elizabeth; Jeffree, Richard; Sword, Richard (1975). Citation Title: "The excellent Mrs. Mary Beale" : 13 October-21 December 1975, Geffrye Museum, London, 10 January-21 February 1976, Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne : catalogue / by Elizabeth Walsh and Richard Jeffree ; with introd. by Sir Oliver Millar ; and special contributions by Margaret Toynbee and Richard Sword ; exhibition designed by Richard Sword. London: Inner London Education Authority. p. 72. ISBN 0708500072
  • Clayton, Ellen C. (1876). English Female Artists. London: Tinsley Bros. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  • Draper, Helen (Oct 2012). "'"Her Painting of Apricots': The Invisibility of Mary Beale (1633-1699)". Forum for Modern Language Studies 48 (4): 389-405. doi:10.1093/fmls/cqso23. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  • Millar, Oliver. 2000. “Mary Beale. London”. The Burlington Magazine 142 (1162). The Burlington Magazine Publications Ltd.: 48–49. http://www.jstor.org/stable/888781.
  • Walsh, Elizabeth. 1948. “Mary Beale”. The Burlington Magazine 90 (544). The Burlington Magazine Publications Ltd.: 209–. http://www.jstor.org/stable/869707.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]