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Bartholomew Beale was the son of the painter, Mary Beale (1633-1699) whose Potrait of a Youth (Bartholomew Beale) was given to Dulwich Picture Gallery by Charles Fairfax Murray in 1911. As a child, Bartholomew Beale assisted his mother Mary Beale in her studio. It was expected that he too would become a painter. The bust upon which Bartholomew rests his hand in this portrait probably alludes to this. It appears to represent the ancient Greek poet, Homer. Blind and impoverished, Homer had long been considered the embodiment of artistic integrity, because he was true to his genius and did not seek to gain wealth from his art. As such, Homer would have acted as the perfect model for an aspiring young artist. Yet Bartholomew followed a different path and in 1680 entered Clare College, Cambridge to study medicine. In 1687, he settled in Coventry to practise as a physician until his untimely death in 1698.
The painting is included in the Catalogue Raisonné of the paintings of Sir Peter Lely, by Sir Oliver Millar and Diana Dethloff. We are grateful to them both for their kind assistance with the cataloguing of this pair of paintings.
The painting is in fine carved-wood frames, which date from around 1740. The frame is English, but the design has distinct northern European overtones. There is a painting by Lely in the same frame in the Dulwich Picture Gallery, which was purchased directly from Horace Walpole’s sale in 1842. However, the painting was already in the frame when Walpole acquired it in 1776 at the sale of its previous owner, a Mr Lovibord. So it is most likely that Mr Lovibord was the owner of this pair of paintings, which, should the portrait of the young lady have come from the Strawberry Hill Collection, have been reunited between 1842 and the 1880s, when Charles Butler bought them.
Beginning his career as a painter after the death of Sir Anthony Van Dyck, Sir Peter Lely became the most respected and wealthy painter of his day. He was a pupil of Frans Pieterszon de Grebber in Haarlem and in 1637, he accompanied William II of Orange to England where the prince married the daughter of Charles I. Lely fell into favor with the King and during the Civil War he painted his portrait in prison shortly before his execution. In 1660, the new King Charles II gave Peter Lely the title of ‘Court Painter.’ He was knighted, and was appointed chamberlain, which entitled him to a fixed pension and it became the height of English fashion to be painted by him in his studio in Convent Garden.
Probably Mr Lovibord; to 1776
Charles Butler; purchased c. 1885; by descent in the family to:
Private collection, England; to 2006
Dulwich Picture Gallery, 2010
London, Royal Academy, The Age of Charles II, 1960-1, catalogued as: Portrait of a Young Man, half length resting his right hand on a bust. Probably painted c. 1670-75. The sitter may be a member of the Beale family, with whom Lely was on very friendly terms, and Charles Beale's drawing of this head is among his drawings in the British Museum; the sitter is possibly to be identified with one of Mary Beale's sons, perhaps Charles(1660-1714), the painter and draughtsman.