English Baroque Era Painter, 1633-1699
was an English portrait painter. She became one of the most important portrait painters of 17th century England, and has been described as the first professional female English painter. Beale was born in Barrow, Suffolk, the daughter of John Cradock, a Puritan rector. Her mother, Dorothy, died when she was 10. She married Charles Beale, a cloth merchant from London, in 1652, at the age of 18. Her father and her husband were both amateur painters, her father being a member of the Painter-Stainers' Company, and she was acquainted with local local artists, such as Nathaniel Thach, Matthew Snelling, Robert Walker and Peter Lely. She became a semi-professional portrait painter in the 1650s and 1660s, working from her home, first in Covent Garden and later in Fleet Street. The family moved to a farmhouse in Allbrook, Hampshire in 1665 due to financial difficulties, her husband having lost his position as a clerk of patents, and also due to the Great Plague in London. For the next five years, a 17th-century two storey timber-framed building was her family home and studio. She returned to London in 1670, where she established a studio in Pall Mall, with her husband working as her assistant, mixing her paints and keeping her accounts. She became successful, and her circle of friends included Thomas Flatman, poet Samuel Woodford, Archbishop of Canterbury John Tillotson, and Bishops Edward Stillingfleet and Gilbert Burnet. She became reacquainted with Peter Lely, now Court Artist to Charles II. Her later work is heavily influenced by Lely, being mainly small portraits or copies of Lely's work. Her work became unfashionable after his death in 1680.