Sir William Beechey, R.A., Burford 1753 - 1839 London
Sir William Beechey was a successful English portrait painter. He trained as a lawyer before entering the Royal Academy Schools in London in 1772, where he is said to have studied with Johan Zoffany. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1776. Following a stint in Norwich, he returned to London in 1787. With Gainsborough deceased and Reynolds retired, Beechey filled an essential vacuum, gaining a reputation for straightforward, unpretentious, and careful portraiture in the tradition of Reynolds. Beechey was named portrait painter to Queen Charlotte in 1793, and in 1798, the year he was elected RA, he exhibited his monumental group portrait of George III Reviewing the Dragoons (Royal Collection), which won him a knighthood. Though he fell from royal favour in 1806, Beechey had no shortage of clients throughout his long and competent career and continued to exhibit at the Academy until the year before his death.