This half-length portrait in kit-cat format shows the sitter with his head turned to the right. He wears a captain's full-dress uniform of 1795–1812 and a high white stock. His left elbow rests on a rock and his sheathed sword is held in the gloved left hand. The background is sky. A piece of paper with the family arms on it is stuck to the top right-hand corner of the canvas and varnished. At the time this portrait was painted the sitter was senior naval officer on the west coast of Africa. He later became Admiral of the Red. The artist trained as a lawyer before entering the Royal Academy Schools, London, in 1772 where he may have studied with Johan Zoffany. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1776 and throughout his career he produced competent portraits since he had no shortage of clients. In 1793 he was named portrait painter to Queen Charlotte and undertook a number of royal commissions. His straightforward style perfectly suited the stolid and conventional taste of the royal family. In 1795, John Opie described Beechey's pictures as 'of that mediocre quality as to taste & fashion, that they seemed only fit for sea Captains & merchants'.
Where to see this painting?
National Maritime Museum
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