Completed Portraits: British 18th C, Portraits: British 19th C, South East England: Artists and Subjects 12 When was this portrait of Queen Charlotte, after William Beechey, painted?

ABD_UA_31642
Topic: Execution date

This painting, previously titled ‘Portrait of a Woman with a Dog’, is actually a copy after William Beechey's portrait of Queen Charlotte (1744–1818), of which there are a number of versions:

1793: http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/paintings/queen-charlotte-of-mecklenburg-strelitz-17441818-131855

1796: https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/405423/queen-charlotte-1744-1818

1812: http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/paintings/queen-charlotte-207040

The execution date of 1750, currently given for the University of Aberdeen portrait, is therefore too early. Its composition looks like it was painted after Beechey’s 1812 version, now in the Courtauld Institute.

Interestingly, in a close up of the Royal Collection portrait, one can easily see the outline of a hat; either Beechey changed his composition while painting or it was changed later on.

The University of Aberdeen would be interested to hear more about this painting.

Andrea Kollmann, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

Jade King,

The artwork was determined to be a print after the 1812 portrait by William Beechey.

This record will be removed from Your Paintings as currently the remit only includes works incorporating oil, acrylic or tempera. The collection's records, however, have been improved as a consequence of this discussion. Many thanks to all who took part in this discussion. Please see below for the comments that led to this conclusion.

The new version of the Your Paintings website will be updated with the removal of the record in early 2016.

11 comments

Betty Elzea,

The black gauze veil indicates that she is in mourning.

Julia Abel Smith,

Beechey's first portrait of the Queen (1793 at Upton House) shows Windsor Castle in the background. The others show Frogmore, which she acquired in 1790. She was particularly fond of the house and commissioned James Wyatt to alter it from 1793-1795. Part of the works included the open colonnade, clearly shown in the Aberdeen portrait.

Neil Jeffares,

There is a pastel copy at Knole, supposedly by John Russell (under whose name you will find it in the Dictionary of pastellists: http://www.pastellists.com/Articles/Russell.pdf). I haven't seen it de visu (nor do I have a good image), and would treat the attribution with some caution. It might perhaps be by Beechey's wife (http://www.pastellists.com/Articles/Beechey.pdf) but there is little evidence of her attainment. The line of the hat seems closest to the Courtauld version, and to yours...which rather suggests that this is the model from which copies were produced...

Osmund Bullock,

There are stains, tears and scuffs that look as if they are to a paper, not a paint layer. And the degree of detail in a picture only 20½ inches high points in the same direction.

The Ryder print is dated 1804, and is therefore presumably after the 1796 version in the Royal Collection. It is a stipple with engraving, and was the frontispiece to Vol II of Boydell's Shakespeare. I can't access BM collections at the moment, but the Royal Collection has fully-catalogued copies of two different states, the second of which, printed in colour, has an image size of 52.0 x 37.5 cm: https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/search#/2/collection/604648/her-most-gracious-majesty-queen-charlotte

This is so close to our (Aberdeen) version (52 x 36.5 cm), that I am all but certain Bendor is right.

Andrea Kollmann,

Could the University of Aberdeen please confirm the medium/support of this portrait? Admittedly, I only focused on the title and year of execution and did not notice its small size or question its medium.

I still find it intriguing that in the 1796 portrait in the Royal collection the Queen’s hat was overpainted, which (assuming that Ryder’s engraving and John Russell’s pastel are based on this portrait) must have happened after 1804.

Because the size of the engraved image (by Ryder, pub. Boydell, 1804) corresponds almost exactly to the Aberdeen picture, I think we are, as others have suggested (Bendor) and concurred (Osmund), here dealing with a print which has been painted over. Andrea has asked the collection to check the medium and that would help greatly, as would a close look at the object itself by someone on the spot to see if the support is indeed paper rather than canvas.

It does seem that the black veil covers the head completely in the Royal Collection's picture, and not in any of the others images. Here we may not be able to establish why this has happened, at least not without a consideration of the conservation history of the painting.

Might the PCF get in touch with the curator at the University of Aberdeen? Although the Library and Museums Special Collections of the University website (and Your Paintings) note that this is an oil on canvas, it would still be worth someone looking at it closely to confirm or see if signs of a printed image lay beneath the oil surface. From what I can see of the image on the University website, the stippling is quite noticeable.

Jade King,

The collection has been contacted, and I will relay any response. Thanks Barbara.

Jade King,

The collection say: 'This is definitely a print laid on canvas, not a painting. I attach a photo of the edge of the picture to show the print laid on canvas. Please amend the catalogue record so that it is recorded as a print after the 1812 portrait by William Beechey.'

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