A Portrait of the Reverend William Beele
Devonport, about 1748
Oil on canvas
William Beele (1704-1757) was appointed a naval chaplain in 1727 and he was stationed at Devonport where this portrait was painted.
He is shown half-length, framed by an oval-shaped stone niche which creates the illusion that we encounter him by chance. The artist has slightly enlarged the sitter’s features, increasing the work’s expressive power.
Reynolds painted this portrait before his trip to Italy (1749-52), in the earliest stages of a highly successful career which included the presidency of the Royal Academy.
Purchased 1969 (No.69.10)