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Beach, Thomas (1738-1806) (DNB00)

BEACH, THOMAS (1738–1806), portrait painter, was born at Milton Abbas, Dorsetshire, in 1738. From his earliest years he evinced a strong predilection for art, and under the patronage of Lord Dorchester's family he became in 1760 a pupil of Sir Joshua Reynolds, resorting at the same time to the St. Martin's Lane academy. He afterwards settled at Bath, then the favourite resort of the fashionable world, and was much employed in painting portraits and portrait groups, usually of a small size, which are well drawn and by no means devoid of merit. He was a member of the Incorporated Society of Artists, and a contributor to its exhibitions from 1772 to 1783. From 1785 he exhibited yearly at the Royal Academy until 1790, but not again until 1797, when he was residing at Strand-on-the-Green, near Kew, and sent a portrait of the Prince of Wales. He died at Dorchester on 17 Dec. 1806. The National Portrait Gallery has a portrait by Beach of William Woodfall, the earliest parliamentary reporter. Portraits of Sir Edward Wilmot, bart., M.D., and Richard Tattersall, the well-known horse dealer who established ‘Tattersall's,’ were exhibited in the National Portrait Exhibition of 1867. He painted likewise, in 1787, ‘Mrs. Siddons and John Kemble in the Dagger Scene in Macbeth,’ of which the great tragic actress wrote, ‘My brother's head is the finest I have ever seen, and the likest of the two.’ Several of Beach's portraits have been engraved in mezzotint by Dickinson, Valentine Green, Houston, and John Jones.

[Gent. Mag. 1806, ii. 1252; Redgrave's Dictionary of Artists, 1878.]

R. E. G.