(Liverpool, England, 1719-1794)
Three Beale Family Portraits, Liverpool/Quincy, Massachusetts, circa 1770; captain Benjamin Beale (1741-1825); Mrs. Benjamin Beale (nee Ann Copeland, 1745-1814), 30 x 25 in.; a child, said to be a son, Benjamin (1768-1826) or Anne, a daughter, 16-5/8 x 13-1/8 in., unsigned, oil on canvas; matching European, black-painted frames,. Condition: all with crackle, lined, restretched on old stretchers, scattered light retouch. Notes: Well known artists such as Joseph Wright of Derby, Peter Romney, Henry Pickering and Edward Alcock were itinerant portrait painters based on and off in Liverpool around 1770. These paintings do not suggest their authorship but opens the possibilities to a particular family painting in Liverpool circa 1770. Wright’s best young pupil, William Tate (1748-1806) was at the outset of his career in 1770, making it unlikely that he would have been able to execute these well-conceived portraits. It is also unlikely that a ship’s captain would have sought him out. It is more likely that a pre-eminent professional portrait painter, such as William Caddick or his sons William or Richard, would be sought for the commission. The Caddicks’ business was a family operation and although the younger William was too young to be involved in this commission, Richard (b. 1748) might have been. There is a portrait in the Walker Art Gallery dating from 1774, the commission which was given to William Caddick but which was largely executed by Richard. It has been suggested that the Beale portraits could also be a joint production or executed solely by William, Senior.
In documenting these works, Robert Fastov stated, "One of the living Beale descendants, Ann Wales Emmons Petri, b. 1930, advised Mr. Fastov, in 2012, that she well recalls seeing the Copley Beale family portraits at "Aunt Julia's house" as a child and especially recalled the portrait of Captain Beale's daughter, Anne Beale, as her name is Ann, and she was particularly attracted to it for this reason and its beauty. She has also stated Aunt Julia always referred to the child's portrait, being that of Anne, Captain Beale's daughter, and there was never any suggestion made by her Aunt Julia that the portrait of the child was a boy or Captain Beale's first son, Benjamin."
These portraits maintain a family tradition of being by John Singleton Copley; however, they do not appear in Jules David Proun's book [John Singleton Copley]. An expert on British portraiture and Liverpool artists suggested the attribution
Literature: Frank W. Bayley, [John Singleton Copley, Founded on the Work of Augustus Thorndike Perkins], The Taylor Press, 1915, p. 57-58;
"JOHN SINGLETON COPLEY
He was born in England, May 30,1741 and died at Quincy, Mass., January 29, 1825. He was by profession a sea captain, and is represented in a full dress suit of light cloth. The size is twenty-nine by twenty four inches. This portrait was in the possession of his grandchildren, the Misses Beale, of Quincy, Mass.
MRS. BENJAMIN BEALE
Whose maiden name was Ann Copeland, was born in Liverpool, May 27, 1745; married there in 1767, and died in Quincy, February 13, 1814. This portrait was in the possession of her grandchildren, the Misses Beale, of Quincy, Mass.
There is a small portrait of the son of Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Beale, size thirteen by fifteen inches. He was born in Liverpool, June 6, 1768; died in 1826, in the Bourbonais, Province of Normandy, France, where he resided the greater part of his life. This portrait was also in the possession of the Misses Beale, of Quincy, Mass.". Provenance: Captain Benjamin Beale, Quincy, Massachusetts; George Washington Beale (1782-1851); Captain Beale’s granddaughters, Ann and Caroline Beale; Captain Beale's great grandson, Arthur Brewster Emmons of Newport, R.I.; his widow, Julia Emmons; Robert W. Emmons III; Brooks Emmons Levy, curator of rare books and special collections at the Firestone Library, Princeton University; Collection of Robert Fastov
all with crackle, lined, restretched on old stretchers, scattered light retouch