Charles Beale, diary

Scope and Content

Charles Beale recorded details of Mary Beale's portrait business in diaries and this diary covers the years 1680-1681. It includes commissions and payments received by Mary Beale (referred to as My D(ear) Heart), lists of works she had completed, details of visits made by Mary and Charles Beale and their son Charles, prices of household payments including clothing and the ingredients for cherry brandy and details of debts. The diary was bound within 'Merlini Anglici Ephemeris: Or, Astrological Judgments for the year 1681' by William Lilly, student in Astrology, printed by J. Macock for the Company of Stationers, 1681.

Administrative / Biographical History

Charles Beale (bap. 1631-1705) was born into a puritan family at Walton Manor, Buckinghamshire. He married Mary Beale, nee Craddock, (bap. 1633-1699) in March 1652 and they took up residence at Covent Garden, London. The couple had two sons Bartholomew Beale (bap. 1656-1709) and Charles Beale (bap. 1660-1726). Around 1660 Charles succeeded his father as deputy clerk of the patents office and they moved to Hind Court, Fleet Street. Mary Beale had gained some reputation as an artist by this point, receiving in 1658 a mention in Sir William Sanderson's 'Graphice... or, The most Excellent Art of Painting'.

The threat of plague and the insecurity of Charles Beale's job led the family to depart London in 1664 for Allbrook, Otterbourne, Hampshire. Whilst there Mary Beale wrote the 'Essay on friendship' in which she called for the equality between men and women in both friendship and marriage. When the family returned to London in 1670 Mary Beale established herself as a professional artist; setting up a studio in their rented house in Pall Mall. Charles Beale must have encouraged his wife to pursue a career as an artist. Mary Beale quickly established a diverse clientele which included the aristocracy and gentry; fellows of the Royal Society and puritan clergy. Once they were old enough Beale's sons helped their mother with the painting of draperies and Mary Beale later trained and employed female assistants in her studio. Charles Beale supported his wife by organising commissions and payments and also by preparing artists' colours. Mary Beale ably supported her family through her work earning £118 5s in 1671 which had risen to £429 by 1677.

The court painter Sir Peter Lely was a great friend of Mary Beale and provided her with support and assistance, allowing her to study his own painting techniques and sell copies of his portraits. By 1681 Mary Beale's commissions were starting to decline, however she continued to paint and strove to improve by experimenting with informal poses and painting on alternative canvas'. Mary Beale died in London in autumn 1699 and was buried at St James's Piccadilly. Charles Beale survived his wife by six years, dying in 1705.

This biographical description is largely based on Christopher Reeve, 'Beale, Mary (bap. 1633-d. 1699)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2008 [, accessed 6 Feb 2017]

Access Information

Available to view by appointment in the Heinz Archive and Library Public Study Room, to make an appointment contact Archive Reception . Although records are generally available for public consultation, some information in them, such as personal data or information supplied to the Gallery in confidence, may be restricted.

Alternative Form Available

A copy of the diary is available and for conservation reasons this is made accessible to researchers wishing to view Beale's diary.

Conditions Governing Use

Personal photography is permitted for research purposes only. Photocopying is not permitted.