Sir William Beechey was born in Burford, Oxfordshire. After his father’s death (1789) he was raised by his uncle and initially apprenticed to a firm of solicitors. In 1772 he moved to London to enter the Royal Academy Schools. He soon married and his children include painter and explorer Henry William. From c.1782 he worked in Norwich, returning to London in 1787. Beechey was a widow by 1793, when he married miniature painter Anne Phyllis Jessop. In 1794 he became a member of the Royal Academy, received a knighthood and exhibited ‘His Majesty Reviewing the Third Dragoon Guards’, his most celebrated work. He was named portrait painter to the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Principle Portrait Painter to William IV before his death aged 85.
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