This work shows King George III reviewing the tenth Dragoons and the third Dragoon Guards as they perform a mock combat exercise in Hyde Park, London. To the left of the king is his second eldest son, Frederick, Duke of York, who was Commander-in-Chief of the army. The ‘Tarleton’ headdress (including a crest of black fur and a white feather plume) worn by the future Prince Regent, remains in the Royal Collection today. Just behind the king is George, Prince of Wales, colonel of both the tenth Dragoons and the third Dragoon Guards. George III and his sons are shown surrounded by various staff officers.
This is a copy of artist William Beechey’s vast 17 foot wide painting titled ‘His Majesty Reviewing the Third Dragoon Guards and the Tenth Light Dragoons’, which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1798. After its exhibition, the painting hung at Windsor Castle, where it remained on display for nearly 200 years. However, on 20 November 1992 the painting was destroyed by a fire at the castle.
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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