Chantry Fine Art Collection
Subject: Portrait of Mary (Moll) Davies
Artist: Mary Beale (Attributed)
Provenance: Christie’s (see below)
Date: 1680 Size: 30”x 25” Condition: Fine
Frame: Late 17th, early 18th century carved frame
Details: Mary Beale (nee Craddock) was the daughter of the Reverend John Craddock, rector of Barrow, and married Charles Beale, Lord of the Manor of Walton, Buckinghamshire, in 1652.
She studied under Robert Walker and was much influenced by her friend Peter Lely, whose work she copied and whose patterns she used.
Her active work started in London in 1670 and she enjoyed considerable success during the 1670’s and 80’s.
Her work is typified by rich colouring. The draperies were frequently painted by her son Charles, also a portrait painter. The eyes of her subjects are usually almond shaped.
She painted many of the leading personalities of the day including members of the court of King Charles II.
She died in 1699 and is buried under the Communion table of St. James’s Piccadilly. (The author has virtually stood on her grave when singing there in choir)
This interesting portrait is clearly in her style and has been attributed to her by Messrs Christies.
It is said to be of Mary (Moll) Davies, one of King Charles II mistresses who bore him a daughter, Mary Tudor, later Countess of Derwentwater. Mary herself had an aristocratic background; she was the natural daughter of Charles, 2nd Earl of Berkshire, brother of Sir Robert Howard and brother-
Many portraits of her exist, the most famous by Lely of 1670 in the collection of the Earl of Bradford, and a 1674 example, also by Lely, in the Western Park Foundation, and one in the National Portrait Gallery.
Lely tended to be very mannered in portraiture and facial features are often stylised. He was very “kind” to his sitters. Mary Beale was rather more realistic and allowing for this and that fact that Mary Davies, to quote a contemporary source “soon outlived the facial attraction she once had”, we are reasonably satisfied that the Beale portrait is of Mary.
It was painted circa 1680 and visibly portrays the deterioration of her looks.
Mary Beale certainly knew Moll Davies. She was a friend of Lely and once wrote in her notebook “I saw at Mr. Bob May’s lodgings at Whitehall those pictures of Mr.Lely’s including his portrait of Mrs Davies with a gold pot
Attributed by Christie’s.
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