Sir George Beaumont

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Beaumont and British art

The first paintings he collected were by living British artists. He again turned to active patronage of a younger generation after 1800. Notably, having purchased David Wilkie’s 'Blind Fiddler' in 1806 (London, Tate) he played a leading role in launching that artist on a successful career in London.

Among the artists whom Beaumont welcomed to study his collection was the young John Constable. One such visit resulted in Constable’s lyrical painting of the Cenotaph to Memory of Sir Joshua Reynolds, which had been erected in the grounds at Coleorton.

As a keen defender of the academic ethos of Reynolds, Beaumont opposed anything which he saw as threatening to the canon of the Old Masters – hence his opposition to the radical colouring of J.M.W. Turner.

After becoming the butt of the satirical ‘Catalogues Raisonnes’ in 1815-6, Beaumont temporarily retired from his leading position in the art world.

Next: Collecting Old Masters