a355: The Stapleton Family
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© The Holburne Museum of Art, Bath
|Title||The Stapleton Family|
|Additional title||William, Catherine, Maria and Henry James Stapleton|
|Object type||In category: Pictures » Painting|
Beach, Thomas (British painter, 1738-1806) (known) - Painter(s)
|Place of origin||Europe » Northern Europe » British Isles » Great Britain » England|
152.5 cm height sight
137.2 cm width sight
174.5 cm height frame
159.0 cm width frame
|Materials & techniques||
Pictures: Medium » Paint » Oil paint
Pictures: Support » Canvas
Conversation piece: three-quarter length portraits of four sitters in a landscape. On the left, a young woman in profile dressed in red hooded cloak and green quilted petticoat, straw bonnet with scarf tied over. She holds the hand of a young woman in the centre, turned to face her and dressed in white muslin over a blue quilted petticoat with matching ribbons through bodice. Between them, resting on the fork of a tree, a young boy in green coat, buff waistcoat, long hair, looks down at them. On the right, a young man dressed in blue uniform and a helmet with red plumes. In a woodland landscape. Carved and gilded frame.
|Marks and inscriptions||
The four younger children of Sir Thomas Stapleton, Bt. (b.1727), of Grey's Court, Rotherfield Greys, near Henley, Oxfordshire (now in the care of the National Trust). Their older brother Thomas (b. 1766) succeeded their father. The three younger children were all unmarried.
From left to right:
1. Maria (d.1858): Dressed as a gypsy in a red woollen cloak, straw hat and quilted petticoat, and pretending to tell her sister Catherine's fortune. This fancy dress reflects the fashion towards the end of the C18 for gypsies and fortune tellers, both as subjects for paintings, popular prints and poems, and as masquerade costumes. The fortune-teller had romantic associations that probably appealed to these young ladies, and there is a suggestion that the older sister is predicting a fortune for her younger sister that involves a rosy future with a rich husband. In fact, neither sister married and they continued to live at Greys until the mid nineteenth century.
2. James Henry (1777-1842), still with the long hair and simple short collar of a schoolboy.
3. Catherine (d.1863), dressed in white muslin over a blue quilted petticoat.
4. William (1770-1826): Lieutenant-general in the army. He married in 1790 Anna Maria Keppel, the well-connected eldest daughter of the Bishop of Exeter.
William's uniform has been identified as that of the 15th Light Dragoons. He was a cornet from 1788 and promoted to lieutenant in 1790. The helmet is of great importance, as this is the only picture showing an old-style helmet (phased out by 1790) worn with the blue uniform introduced in 1784. The helmet is emblazoned with the first battle honour, "Emsdorf" (a victory against France in 1760), awarded to a British regiment. See A.S Matthews, 'The Uniform of the 15th (or Kings) Light Dragoons, 1789', in Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, XLII, pp. 175-78.
Thomas Beach (1738-1806)
Born 1738, Milton Abbas Dorset, sent to London 1760 as a pupil of Sir Joshua Reynolds. For two years he worked in Reynolds's studio. He was also a student at the St Martin's Lane Academy.
Settled in Bath 1771.
Addresses in Bath:
6 Trim Street (1772-1776),
2 Westgate Buildings (c.1778-80)
Westgate Buildings was an excellent address for an artist, as it was on the direct carriage route between the Circus and Baths. He would paint Bath society portraits during the winter season and tour country houses to paint and teach their occupants during the summer.
From 1772, he sent paintings to the annual exhibitions of the Society of Artists. Fellow of the Incorporated Society of Artists 1775, later director. Vice president 1782, president 1785. Exhibited Royal Academy 1785-1790 and 1797.
1784 left Bath for London, but returned to Bath 1798. he also visited periodically during the 1790s, accompanied in 1791 by Sir Joshua Reynolds. Lived at 6 Bath Street 1798-1803. Retired to Dorchester until his death 17 December 1806.
One of Beach's most significant activities in Bath was to organise the first public art exhibition, in 1778. Artists were invited to submit work for exhibition at Beach's house. Beach also marketed his work by organising at least one concert in his show room, with such well-known performers as Salomon and Tenducci.
See also Sloman, Susan, Pickpocketing the Rich: Portrait Painting in Bath 1720-1800, exhibition catalogue, the Holburne Museum of Art, Bath, 2002, p. 17.
The Victoria Art Gallery has a substantial collection of portraits by Beach, including such Bath notables as Christopher Anstey, Henry Harington, and Roger Kemble. The National Portrait Gallery has a fine self-portrait, among other works by Beach.
Elise Sophia Beach Thomas Beach, a Dorset portrait painter, London, 1934, cat. no. 266.
A.S Matthews "The Uniform of the 15th (or Kings) Light Dragoons, 1789", in Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, XLII, pp.175-78
Mary Holbrook, "Painters in Bath in the Eighteenth Century", in Apollo, vol. 98, Nov. 1973, pp. 54-55, fig. 13.
Ellis Waterhouse The Dictionary of British 18th Century Painters, Woodbridge, 1981, ill. p. 44.
Art and Culture in Georgian Bath 1714-1830
Art and Culture in Georgian Bath 1714-1830 » Art » The Portrait Business
Art and Culture in Georgian Bath 1714-1830 » Art » After Gainsborough
Art and Culture in Georgian Bath 1714-1830 » Leisure » Shopping & Fashion
Art and Culture in Georgian Bath 1714-1830
|Method of acquisition||Gift|
Sir Thomas Stapleton (b1727); thence by descent; Sir Miles Stapleton, Bart, of Fawley Court, Henley-on-Thames; by whom sold Christie's, April 26, 1929, lot 88; purchased by Lewis (£280); Miss Eleanor Stapleton of 7, Circus, Bath; by whom lent to the Museum, 1937, by whom presented to the Museum 1947.
Title of exhibition: Art Treasures from the West Country