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Creator:
George Beare, active 1738–1749, British
Title:

Portrait of an Elderly Lady and a Girl

Former Title(s):

Portrait of an Elderly Lady and a Young Girl [1985, Cormack, YCBA Concise Catalogue]

Portrait of an elderly woman and a girl

Date:
1747
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
49 1/16 x 40 1/4 inches (124.6 x 102.2 cm)
Inscription(s)/Marks/Lettering:

Signed and dated, center left: "Geo : Beare . pinx+ | 1747."

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
B1976.7.180
Classification:
Paintings
Collection:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
chair | costume | elderly | flowers (plants) | girl | interior | portrait | vase | woman
Access:
Not on view
Link:
https://collections.britishart.yale.edu/catalog/tms:4998
Export:
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IIIF Manifest:
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Little is known about the provincial portrait painter George Beare, and the sitters in this double portrait, perhaps grandmother and granddaughter, are unidentified. The image presents a sympathetic contrast between the older woman, elaborately dressed in gray damask and lace, and the freshness and simplicity of the girl. The painting represents a subtle shift in taste from the rococo style, as practiced in Britain by painters like Jean-Baptiste van Loo and Francis Hayman, toward the more direct English style of naturalism associated with William Hogarth. The sumptuous fabrics suggest that the sitters belonged to one of the wealthier families of the Salisbury region where Beare had his studio, and it has been suggested that they were members of the Grove family of Ferne House, Berwick St. John, Wiltshire.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016
George Beare’s distinctive Portrait of an Elderly Ladyand a Girl is unquestionably his masterpiece. Of the relatively small number of paintings known to be by him (between fifty and seventy-five in all), this is the only double portrait. By bringing together in one image two sitters of greatly differing ages, he creates not only a touching portrait of what must be a grandmother and grandchild, but also a study in contrasts in which his eye for subtleties of texture and color is shown to full advantage. Beare makes the most of the visual possibilities inherent in the depiction of young with old. The thick strokes of paint that describe the old woman’s wrinkled face stand out against the smooth surfaces of the creamy pink flesh of the young girl; similarly the deep grays of the older sitter’s silver silk-damask dress provide a rich contrast to the milky-white linen of the grandmother’s cap and the handkerchief draped over her shoulders.The pink silk underneath the white cloth of the young girl’s dress reinforces the tonalities of her youthful and vibrant complexion, while the grays and whites of the old woman’s dress emphasize her advanced age and heighten the pictorial impact of her slackening and yellowed skin. By placing the sitters against a darkened background, Beare draws our attention immediately to the heads of the women, particularly that of the elderly sitter who candidly engages us with her slightly wizened yet still vibrant eyes. The sumptuous fabrics in the portrait suggest that the sitters belonged to one of the wealthier families of the Salisbury region where Beare had his practice, and it has been suggested that they were members of the Grove family of Ferne House, Berwick St. John, Wiltshire. Most of Beare’s patrons were from the upper-middle classes living in or around Salisbury. The work fuses a frank “naturalism” made popular in the 1740s by William Hogarth with the more rened sensibilities of the English Rococo idiom as practiced by Francis Hayman. Beare’s conation of these two styles suggests that he may have spent time in London, and itis possible he trained at the St. Martin’s Lane Academy —where he would have been exposed to both Hogarth and Hayman. Over the course of the last fty years, Beare’s œuvre has slowly emerged from the shadows cast by these more celebrated contemporaries. The dearth of biographical evidence of his life has hampered both the assessment of his training and practice and, ultimately, the authentication of unsigned paintings. Most of his known paintings—including this one—are signed and dated, and most date from the period between 1743 and 1749. On May 22 of the latter year, the Salisbury Journal noted, “Last Week died near Andover, Hants, Mr Beare, lately an eminent Face Painter in this City.”

Julia Marciari-Alexander, This other Eden, paintings from the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1998, p. 50, no. 13, ND1314.3 Y36 1998 (YCBA)

Love, Life, Death, and Desire: An Installation of the Center's Collections (Yale Center for British Art, 2020-10-01 - 2021-02-28) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

This Other Eden : British Paintings from the Paul Mellon Collection at Yale (Art Gallery of South Australia, 1998-09-16 - 1998-11-15) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

This Other Eden : British Paintings from the Paul Mellon Collection at Yale (Queensland Art Gallery, 1998-07-15 - 1998-09-06) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

This Other Eden : British Paintings from the Paul Mellon Collection at Yale (Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1998-05-01 - 1998-07-05) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Mark Bills, Early Gainsborough: 'From the Obscurity of a Country Town', Gainsborough's House Society, Sudbury, Suffolk, United Kingdom, p. 105, fig. 8, NJ18.G16 B55 2018 (LC) Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

British Art at Yale, Apollo, v.105, no. 182, April 1977, pp. 243, 245, fig. 14, N5220 M552 A7 1977 OVERSIZE (YCBA) Published as April 1977 issue of Apollo; all of the articles may also be found in bound Apollo Volume [N1 A54 105:2 +] [YCBA]

Malcolm Cormack, A Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 20-21, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Current and Forthcoming Exhibitions, Burlington Magazine, v. 117,no.873, December 1975, p. 820-21, fig. 48, N1 B87 + OVERSIZE (YCBA) Also available online in JSTOR. [YCBA]

George Beare, very human portraits of ordinary people of the 1740's by an artist whose style and quality at their best rank him alongside his contemporaries Hogarth and Hudson : exhibition 11 November - 30 December, Pallant House ... , Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, Sussex (England), 1989, pp. 6, 32-33, no. 28, NJ18 B3624 A12 C65 1989 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Julia Marciari-Alexander, This other Eden, paintings from the Yale Center for British Art , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1998, p. 50, no. 13, ND1314.3 Y36 1998 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Paul Mellon's Legacy, a passion for British art. [large print labels] , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, v. 3, N5220 M552 +P381 2007, Mellon Shelf (YCBA) [YCBA]

Frank Trapp, British art, v. 6-7, Mead Art Museum, Amherst, Mass., 1986, p. 17, fig. 2, N6764 B75 (YCBA) [YCBA]

William Vaughan, British painting, the Golden Age from Hogarth to Turner , Thames and Hudson, London, 1999, p. 49, no. 31, ND466 V28 1999 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Ellis Waterhouse, An Impressive Panorama of British Portraiture, Apollo, v. 105, no. 182, April 1977, pp. 243, 245, fig. 14, N1 A54 + (YCBA) Another copy of this article may be found in a separately bound and catalogued copy of this issue located on the Mellon Shelf [call number : N5220 M552 A7 1977 + (YCBA)] [YCBA]

Ellis Waterhouse, Dictionary of British 18th Century Painters in Oils and Crayons, Antique Collectors' Club, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1981, pp. 44-45, ND466 +W38 Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

Yale Center for British Art, Selected paintings, drawings & books, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1977, p. 12, N590.2 A82 (YCBA) [YCBA]


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