Mini Biography: Mary Beale

Birth: March, 1633
Death: October 8th, 1699
Nationality: British

Born in Suffolk, England to a rector named John Craddock and his wife Dorothy, Beale grew up in Barrow. At the age of 18 she married Charles Beale and by the 1650’s-1660’s, when she became a professional painter, he became her studio manager and kept detailed records of her studio practices, materials, and sales. As Beale’s reputation grew she became a sought after portrait painter, in 1677 for example she had 83 commissions, and was earning enough money to support her family. Her sons participated in the family business by painting drapery and creating the ovals used for her portraits. Almost two hundred years after her death Beale had a solo show and even more recently, in 2010, the Tate Museum acquired 2 of Beale’s paintings of her son Bartholomew which had been discovered in a Paris antique store. The oil on paper paintings from the 1650’s are currently displayed, with a third portrait painted in 1681, in the museum’s British Art collection.

Some of Beale’s notable work includes: Portrait of a Young Girl (1681), Portrait of Thomas Sydenham (1688); and the Portrait of Robert Coleman painted in 1690. The first of the works listed is pictured below.

Portrait of a Young Girl c.1681 by Mary Beale 1633-1699
Beale, Mary. Portrait of a Young Girl (c.1681), Tate, London.

For more information about Mary Beale and her artwork visit:


National Museum of Women in the Arts

National Portrait Gallery