Sir William Beechey:
English painter. He was trained as a lawyer before entering the Royal Academy Schools, London, in 1772. He is thought to have studied under Johan Zoffany, and his earliest surviving portraits are small-scale full-lengths and conversation pieces in Zoffanys manner (e.g. The Custance Conversation Piece, c. 1786; priv. col.). Beechey first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1776. In 1782 he moved to Norwich, where he gained several commissions, but he was back in London by 1787. In 1789 he exhibited a portrait of John Douglas, Bishop of Carlisle (London, Lambeth Pal.) that is remarkable for its facility of handling. Beechey would occasionally paint similarly inspired works, but his career is marked by a succession of unflamboyant but competent portraits in the tradition of Joshua Reynolds.