Sir George Beaumont

Patronage and influence

Beaumont owned several different properties, which formed a backdrop to his patronage of the arts. He inherited a small estate at Dunmow, Essex from his landowning father (as well as the title of 7th Baronet in 1762). Meanwhile his wife inherited the lease on a house at 34 Grosvenor Square, which gave him a ‘bolt-hole’ in London. However, his main home became Coleorton Hall, Leicestershire.

Paintings

His interest in art started as a schoolboy at Eton College, where he had been taught drawing by the landscape painter, Alexander Cozens. He continued to paint throughout his life and went on numerous sketching tours of the Lake District and North Wales with his wife Margaret (née Willes). Despite the cool reception by critics to his early effort, 'A View of Keswick' (1779),  he frequently exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1794 and 1825.

His own work owed its greatest debts to Cozens, Richard Wilson, and Thomas Hearne. Examples are preserved in the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester. The remainder of his works passed to his descendants.

Arbiter of taste

Through his own artistic efforts, as well as his purchases of Old Masters and his patronage of living British artists, he became the leading arbiter of taste. He had responsibilities to several committees which spread his influence, including the monuments committee for St. Paul’s Cathedral. He was also the founding director of the British Institution, established in 1806.

Next: Beaumont and British art

 
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