|Original Artist||William Beechey|
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(1753 Burford, England - 1839 Hampstead, England)
English portrait and landscape painter. He trained to be a lawyer but turned to art and entered the Royal Academy schools in London in 1774. His early works were rather dull and consisted mostly of conversation pieces influenced by his probable teacher, Johan Zoffany, and portraits in the style of Sir Joshua Reynolds. After a five-year stay in Norwich, 1782–87, Beechey returned to London to enjoy a long and successful career marked by royal appointments. In 1793 he became Portrait Painter to Queen Charlotte. The imposing, approximately 4 x 5 metre ‘Review of a Horse Guard with King George III and the Prince of Wales’ (Royal Collections) earned him a knighthood in 1798, the year in which he was also elected a Royal Academician. He exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy from 1776 and at the British Institution from its foundation in 1805. He was praised for developing a technique which contributed to the durability of his paintings but artistically they remained uninspiring. The quality of his art improved by 1800 when his handling became more spontaneous, composition more innovative and palette lighter. He occasionally painted landscapes and mythological subjects. He was appointed portrait painter to William Frederick, 2nd Duke of Gloucester, around 1813 and Principal Painter to William IV after 1830. Beechey is reputed to have helped young artists such as John Constable. His naval-officer sons, Admiral Richard Brydges Beechey (1808–95), and Frederick William Beechey (1796–1856) were both good artists, the former exhibiting marine works. His brother, George Beechey, was also a portrait painter.