Mary Beale Sleeper! and less significant news...

September 28 2023

Image of Mary Beale Sleeper! and less significant news...


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News from Lisbon that the following Portrait of a Gentleman with a Hat realised an impressive 37,000 euros on Monday over its 1,500 estimate. Catalogued as ‘Flemish School, 17th century’, the bidders for this sleeper knew that this was in fact a beautiful head study by Mary Beale (1633-1699), one of England’s most accomplished female artists of the seventeenth-century. There is little doubt that it depicts Mary’s husband Charles, and relates to another fur-hat portrait which is in the McMaster Museum of Art in Ontario, Canada. Beale’s head studies of her family remain the most sensitive and highly regarded in her oeuvre, and this example looks right up there in terms of quality and beauty.

It just so happens that I spotted this painting in an old sales catalogue back in April, and had posted it on my Instagram account as one of those lost treasures I hoped would reappear one day. Curiously, the portrait was sold at Christie’s New York in 1989 as a portrait by Jacob van Oost in full, a period when very few in the art world were thinking about what a Mary Beale looked like. It seems that coincidences do happen, and browsing through old sales catalogues for misattributions is always a fruitful and educational experience. I’m sure the painting will reappear somewhere interesting in due course.

Of less notable news is that I am very happily returning to my post as co-editor of this fine blog. I’ve had the great honour the past year and a half of cataloguing paintings in the Old Master Department at Sotheby’s, but have recently decided to return to this varied life where I can devote more time to enthusing for our corner of the art world. I’ll be continuing as a consultant at the auction house, which will give me the freedom to write here (open and honestly) and pursue projects elsewhere. It seems that an awful lot has been happening over the past few months, so it’s about time I got going!

As ever, all comments and suggestions are most welcome!

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