Portrait of Robert Helyar

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Object Description

Framed oil on canvas

Object Literature

7982P

PORTRAIT OF ROBERT HELYAR AGED 20, c. 1748-1781

THOMAS BEACH 1738 – 1806

Exhibited at Bristol R.W.A; Art Treasures of the West Country, 24 May -26 June 1937 no.127
(lent by Mrs Walker Heneage)

Inscription verso, labels verso and dated 1768
Oil on canvas 30 x 25 ½ inches
Framed size 37 ¼ x 32 ½ inches

Thomas Beach was born in Milton Abbas, Dorset. He Studied at St. Martin’s Lane Academy and with Sir Joshua Reynolds from 1760-1762.
Beach had moved to Bath by 1772 where he spent many years travelling round Dorset and Somerset painting portraits.
He exhibited his work from 1772 to 1797 at the Royal Academy and the Society of Artists of Great Britain where he became the Vice President in 1780.
It is his success that is said to have driven Joseph Wright of Derby from Bath in 1777.
Beach painted a number of single portraits in feigned ovals, which were often signed and dated.
It is said that his portraits had a strong likeness of the sitter.
His friend Walpole wrote, that his ‘portraits never require the horrid question of – Pray who is that Sir? They always explain themselves’.
Beach gave up painting c.1800 and retired to Dorchester where he died on 17 December 1806.
His handling of paint can be vigorous and his compositions are often informal. He used high ‘fresh air’ colouring to the flesh and strong yellows and blues.

Represented: National Portrait Gallery, London; National Gallery Ireland; Victoria and Albert Museum; Holborne of Menistrie Museum, Bath; Victoria Art Gallery, Bath; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; Menbury House; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Getty Museum, Malibu.

Bibl: Dictionary of Portrait Painters – Brian Stewart & Mervyn Cutten.

Provenance: By decent through the sitter’s family at Coker Court, Yeovil, Somerset;
Colonel and Mrs Walker Heneage by 1937 and thence by decent.

Robert Helyar (1748-1781) joined the 7th Regiment of Dragoons in June 1768.
This portrait was painted to commemorate his army commission.
William Helyar was a great patron of Beach as he commissioned no less than 14 portraits of family members between 1768-1769 of which this would have been one of them.

Object Condition

Good

Object Details

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