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 mary beale (1633-1699): artist 

PhD thesis: Mary Beale and her ‘paynting room’ in Restoration LondonInstitute of Historical Research & The Courtauld Institute of Art (2020)

Mary Beale (1633-1699), her portrait studio and circle of friends and sitters provide the central case-study for my research into London's cultural life, and its art patronage and production in particular. The main purpose of my thesis is to discover how Beale became a professional artist when women's avenues to work were apparently limited. In the process I intend to confound the assumption that the creation and sale of art was almost exclusively the province of 'Master' painters, their male apprentices and guilds.


Seventeenth-century London was characterised, in intellectual life and society, by the paradoxical yearning for both continuity and innovation, as is illustrated by the recurring themes of reproduction and experimentation, national identity and internationalism. During and after the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660 the metropolis was aglow with creativity, sensation and intrigue, but also beset by plague, fire and war.


Beale and her circle navigated their way through these currents of change, and are survived by the many paintings and texts they created. In many ways they and their works embody the preoccupations of their times, demonstrating a complex relationship between creativity and commerce, friendship and ambition.

Mary Beale Self-portrait, c.1660, detail, Geffrye Museum, London

Draper 'Mary Beale (1633-1699) and her objects of affection' in Writing the Lives of People and Things, AD 500-1700: a multi-disciplinary future for biography eds. G. Watson and R. Smith, Farnham: Ashgate, 2016, pp. 115-141 [book chapter].


Draper 'her painting of Apricots: the invisibility of Mary Beale (1633-1699)', Forum for Modern Language Studies, v. 48, no. 4, (Oxford, O.U.P, 2012), pp. 289-405.


Draper 'Mary Beale and Art's lost laborers: women Painter Stainers', Early Modern Women: an Interdisciplinary Journal, vol. 10:1, University of Miami, 2015, pp. 141-151.

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