Mary Constance

Mary Constance

about 1782 - 1787
William Beechey, English, 1753-1839
Born: Oxfordshire, England
Work Locations: London, England
Oil paint on panel
Accession Number
Credit Line
Gift of the Berger Collection Educational Trust

Sir William Beechey, Mary Constance, About 1782–87. Oil paint on panel; 12 × 9 1/2 in. (30.5 × 24.1 cm). Gift of the Berger Collection Educational Trust, 2019.18

image height: 12 in, 30.4800 cm; image width: 9 1/2 in, 24.1300 cm; frame height: 19 in, 48.2600 cm; frame width: 16 5/8 in, 42.2275 cm; frame depth: 2 1/4 in, 5.7150 cm
European and American Art Before 1900
European Painting and Sculpture before 1900

Born in Oxfordshire, William Beechey studied at the Royal Academy Schools in London before beginning his career as a painter of local gentry in Norwich, near the coast in eastern England. In this portrait of the wife of a Norwich dignitary, Francis Constance, Beechey displays the talents that would establish his reputation, including patronage by Queen Charlotte, for whom he was named royal portrait painter in 1793. Here, the high degree of finish is characteristic of his gemlike style, his attention focused on the textures of his subject’s dress, precisely representing both the generous folds of the gray satin gown and the delicacy of the sheer ruffled shawl. In contrast, he painted the background landscape with its stormy sky in a loosely brushed style reminiscent of Thomas Gainsborough. 

Known Provenance
The family of the sitter; by whom sold to Leggatt, London; with Dowdeswell & Dowdeswell, London; with Mortimer Brandt, New York; from whom acquired by Mrs. Julius Shamansky, 1940s; her estate sale, Christie’s, New York, May 22, 1998, lot 129; from which acquired by William M. B. Berger and Bernadette Johnson Berger, Denver; Berger Collection Educational Trust; gifted to the Denver Art Museum, 2019. Provenance research is on-going at the Denver Art Museum and we will post information as it becomes available. Please e-mail, if you have questions, or if you have additional information to share with us.
Exhibition History
  • “Treasures from the Berger Collection: British Paintings 1400-2000” — Denver Art Museum, 10/2/2014 – 9/9/2018

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