Exhibited at Bristol R.W.A;
Art Treasures of the West Country, 24 May -26 June 1937 no.127
(lent by Mrs Walker
Inscription verso, labels verso and dated 1768
Oil on canvas 30 x 25 ½ inches
Framed size 37 ¼ x 32 ½ inches
Thomas Beach was born in Milton Abbas, Dorset.
He Studied at St. Martin’s Lane Academy
and with Sir Joshua Reynolds from 1760-1762.
Beach had moved to Bath by 1772 where he
spent many years travelling round Dorset and Somerset painting portraits.
He exhibited his work from 1772 to 1797 at
the Royal Academy and the Society of Artists of Great Britain where he became
the Vice President in 1780.
It is his success that is said to have
driven Joseph Wright of Derby from Bath in 1777.
Beach painted a number of single portraits
in feigned ovals, which were often signed and dated.
It is said that his portraits had a strong
likeness of the sitter.
His friend Walpole wrote, that his ‘portraits
never require the horrid question of – Pray who is that Sir? They always
Beach gave up painting c.1800 and retired
to Dorchester where he died in 1806.
His handling of paint can be vigorous and
his compositions are often informal. He used high ‘fresh air’ colouring to the
flesh and strong yellows and blues.
Represented: National Portrait Gallery,
London; National Gallery Ireland; Victoria and Albert Museum; Holborne of
Menistrie Museum, Bath; Victoria Art Gallery, Bath; Walker Art Gallery,
Liverpool; Menbury House; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Getty Museum, Malibu.
Bibl: Dictionary of Portrait Painters -
Brian Stewart & Mervyn Cutten.
Provenance: By decent through the sitter’s
family at Coker Court, Yeovil, Somerset;
Colonel and Mrs Walker Heneage
by 1937 and thence by decent.
Robert Helyar (1748-1781) joined the 7th
Regiment of Dragoons in June 1768.
This portrait was painted to commemorate
his army commission.
William Helyar was a great patron of Beach
as he commissioned no less than 14 portraits of family members between
1768-1769 of which this would have been one of them.