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18th Century Portrait Of William, Baron Craven By Thomas Beach (1738-1806)


"18th Century Portrait Of William, Baron Craven By Thomas Beach (1738-1806)"
Portrait of William Craven, 6th Baron Craven of Hampstead Marshall, Berkshire (1738-1791), three-quarter length, standing in an interior, wearing a blue silk embroidered waistcoat under a pale green jacket with silver buttons, resting his right hand on a cane and his left in his pocket, wearing a powdered wig.
Provenance: The collection of Anthony Boyden, Dewlish, Dorset.

During conservation and restoration of the portrait, the revealing of various pentimenti in the sitter's clothing and posture, suggest that it may have been the basis for a more complex full-length version painted by Beach in 1778 of William holding the architectural plans in his study of Benham Park, the country seat of the Cravens in Berkshire. This was listed in the paintings inventory of Coombe Abbey, the primary seat of the Earls of Craven in Warwickshire in 1866 and sold at Sotheby's Paris in the Robert de Balkany sale, 28 September 2016, lot no. 235, for 65,000 euros.

The cleaning of the portrait involved the removal of the dark overpainted background (probably added in the 19th century to appeal to the Victorian taste of the owner), which revealed William to be standing against a russet coloured fringed drapery in an interior, a setting more expected for a portrait of this quality and period. Another version of this portrait by Beach in an identical pose with the same drapery background, his hand resting on a faithful hound's head as opposed to a cane, was sold at the Croxteth Hall sale through Christies in September 1973. (image and reference, Paul Mellon Centre London). Croxteth Hall was the seat of the Earls of Sefton and William's sister Maria Craven had married William Molyneaux, the 2nd Earl of Sefton. It is likely that our portrait, like this one was commissioned and given as a gift to a close family member or friend.

William Craven was an English nobleman. He was the son of Reverand John Craven of Staunton Lacy, Shropshire and succeeded his uncle, William Craven as Baron Craven in 1769. In 1775 he built Benham Park at the site of Benham Valence in Speen, Berkshire where he lived with his wife, Lady Elizabeth Berkeley. Both Elizabeth and her husband had affairs, notably Elizabeth's scandalous liaison with the French ambassador, the Count of Guines, in 1773 which was featured in the pages of The Morning Chronicle. Eventually Elizabeth left William in 1780 to travel around Europe. They had three sons and four daughters. After William's death at age 53 on 27 September 1791 in Lausanne, Switzerland, Elizabeth married the Margrave of Anspach.
Lord Craven was responsible for building the original cottage at what is now known as Craven Cottage, the home of Fulham football club, next to Bishop's Palace in Fulham, London.

Thomas Beach RA (Milton Abbas, Dorset 1738-1806 Dorchester) was a British portrait artist who studied under Joshua Reynolds. Whilst at school in Abbey Milton (now known as Milton Abbas), Beach's talent came to the attention of Lord Milton, a governor of the school, who sent him to London in 1760 to be a pupil of Joshua Reynolds and he became a student at the Academy of Painting in St Martin's Lane.
From London, he moved to Bath where he established a very successful and busy portrait practice, living and working at no.2 Westgate street. From here in 1772, he sent three portraits to the Exhibition of the Incorporated Society of Artists.
By 1785 he was back in London, living in St James' Square and he exhibited at the Royal Academy in London every year from then until 1790 and again in 1797 with a portrait of the Prince of Wales (later George IV) when he had moved to Strand on the Green near Kew. Some of Beach's well-known sitters included members of the Helyar family of Coker Court, Dorset (1760's), members of the Penruddocke family of Compton Park, Wiltshire, Elizabeth, Lady Craven with a harp (1776), Richard Tattersall, horse auctioneer and founder of 'Tattersalls' (1787), William Woodfall, the dramatic critic and parliamentary reporter (1782, now in the NPG London), and around twelve known portraits of the famous actress Mrs Siddons with whom he remained friends for the rest of his life.
Beach's last recorded work was a self-portrait painted in 1802 and with his health ailing, he retired to Dorset where he died in 1806 aged 68.

Literature:
E.S. Beach, Thomas Beach, a Dorset portrait painter, favourite pupil of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1934.
A.M. Broadley and L. Melville, The beautiful Lady Craven, 1914
Price : $28,000
Artist : Thomas Beach (1738-1806)
Period: 18th century
Style: Georgian
Condition : Very good, ready to hang

Material : Oil on canvas
Width : 100cm
Height : 127cm

Reference : 1138
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