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Enquiry from Online Galleries regarding "A fabulous portrait of a Nobleman, believed to be Thomas Sydenham, the great physican"
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Mary Beale was the first professional female English artist. She was a prolific painter in full length oils, mainly in the style of Lely, although it is known that she painted a few miniatures.
She began her artistic career in the 1650's but started to paint professionally in the early 1670's, when after escaping to Hampshire to avoid the plague, she returned to London. She worked with Lely in his studio and made small copies of his portraits of famous people.
Her husband, Charles, worked as her assistant mixing her paints and keeping her accounts. She became successful, and her circle of friends included Thomas Flatman, poet Samuel Woodford, the Archbishop of Canterbury John Tillotson, and Bishops Edward Stillingfleet and Gilbert Burnet.
The use of white impasto and broad sweeping strokes for the draperies found in her full length oils are replicated in this miniature. The painterly sweeping strokes for the sitter's hair, evident in the miniature, can also be found in her larger oil portraits as can the warm tones of the background .
The miniature is not signed on the front but may well be inscribed on the reverse. It is set in the original silver gilt frame with the original crystal glass. The overall technique, with its painterly approach, evokes the hand of an artist more used to larger scale work, than one working in miniature. It is competently executed and although it cannot be proved, beyond doubt, that this is the work of Mary Beale, there are very few other artists working at this time with such brilliance.
The sitter bears a very strong likeness to the several large scale portraits that Mary Beale painted of Thomas Sydenham (1624-1689). Sydenham became the undisputed master of the English medical world and was known as 'The English Hippocrates'. Among his many achievements was the discovery of a disease, Sydenham's Chorea, also known as St Vitus Dance.
|Height||3.00 inch||(7.62 cm)|