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Dimensions: 76.5 x 63.5cm (30 x 25in)
Mary Beale (born Craddock in March 1633) was a prolific English portrait painter, becoming one of the most important portrait painters of the middle classes in 17th century England and has been described as the first professional female English painter. She was born in Barrow in Suffolk where her father was a rector and married Charles Beale in 1651. She possibly studied under Robert Walker but later was chiefly influenced by Lely who was a friend and whose work he allowed her to sometimes make copies of. Her most active period was the 1670's and early '80's. Her husband kept very detailed notes of her studio activities and the notebooks for 1677 and 1681 survive, found at The Bodleian Library, Oxford and The National Portrait Gallery, London, respectively, and Vertue publishes partial transcripts of others. Her style was often characterised by the feigned stone oval cartouche with fruit as in this portrait. She died and was buried in London in October 1699.
Walsh and Jeffree 'The Excellent Mrs Mary Beale' 1975/6