Portrait of Lady Beechey and Her Child

After the painting, dated 1800 or 1801, in the Detroit Institute of Arts (53.387); A virtually identical painting entitled Lady Beechey and Her Baby by Beechey is in the Detroit Institute of the Arts, no. 53.387.

Copy after Sir William Beechey, English, 1753 - 1839

Geography:
Made in England, Europe

Date:
19th century

Medium:
Oil on canvas

Dimensions:
29 15/16 x 24 7/16 inches (76 x 62.1 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
1973-264-1

Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. S. Emlen Stokes, 1973

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Additional information:
  • PublicationBritish Painting in the Philadelphia Museum of Art

    Lady Beechey and Her Child is a version from Beechey's studio (and possibly from his hand) after Beechey's painting in the Detroit Institute of Arts. It is the Detroit picture, presumably, that the writer of “Public Characters, 1800-1801" described as "'A portrait of Lady Beechey, with the youngest of eight children in her arms, [which] we cannot omit noticing, as a strong example of the manner in which an artist succeeds when he paints con amore: in point of drawing, resemblance, colouring and character, it is a chef d’ouevre. If it came into our plan to enumerate this lady's performances in miniature, (for she also is an artist, and a good one) many admirable little pictures might be added to this list."1 The picture was generally praised, and one critic wrote that "the appearance of nature is ably represented in the child, and there is a pleasing expression of parental tenderness in the mother.”2

    Lady Beechey is shown in half length, holding her infant daughter Anna Dodsworth Becchey, who was born in 1800. She is dressed in black satin trimmed in brown fur with a white ruffled collar, a brown embroidered shawl, and wears a fashionable white turban. The child wears a lace bonnet and is wrapped in a pink coverlet. In 1825 this daughter married John Jackson of Hambleton, Rutlandshire, and Queen Anne Street, London.

    Roberts (1907, p. 194) described a portrait of Anna Dodsworth Beechey as a baby "being nursed by her mother'' in the collection of Rev. Hippisley Jackson of Stagsden Vicarage, Bedford. It is not clear whether this is the Detroit or the Philadelphia picture, although Rev. Hippisley Jackson would certainly be a descendant of Anna Beechey Jackson. (Lady Beechey and Her Child was sold in 1930 as Mrs. Tennant and Child, but this identification is clearly wrong.)

    This is a portrait of Beechey's second wife, born Anne Phyllis Jessop (1764-1833/4) in Thorpe, near Norwich. As a miniature-painter she first exhibited at the Royal Academy under her maiden name in 1787. She married Beechey, with Paul Sandby (1730-1809) as a witness, in St. George’s Church, Hanover Square, on February 27, 1793, and thereafter exhibited under her married name from 1795 to 1805. She bore fifteen children, twelve of whom lived to maturity.3

    Richard Dorment, from British Painting in the Philadelphia Museum of Art: From the Seventeenth through the Nineteenth Century (1986), pp. 22-23.

    1. "Sir William Beechey," Public Characters of 1800-1801 (London, 1807), p. 362.
    2. Quoted by Roberts,Sir William Beechey, R.A. London and NewYork, 1907, p. 187, who mistakenly suggested that no. 179 in the Royal Academy exhibition of 1800, the portrait of Lady Beechey, is a half-length portrait formerly in the collection of E. G. Raphael (30 x 25”, Roberts, 1907, repro. opp. p. 26). This shows a lady with sketching book and crayon, but it cannot be no. 179 because the newspaper descriptions of that portrait, quoted by Roberts himself pp. 71-72, mention the child.
    3. Daphne Foskett, A Dictionary of British Miniature Painters (London, 1912), vol. 1, p. 159. See also William Roberts. Sir William Beechey, R.A. London and New York, 1907, pp. 7-8, 184-88; "Sir William Beechey," Public Characters of 1800-1801 (London, 1807), p. 362.