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My Dearest Heart

The Artist Mary Beale (1633-1699)

Mary Beale (1633–99) was one of the earliest professional women artists in Britain. Her successful career as a Baroque-era portrait artist was documented by her husband, Charles, whose almanacs provide a unique record of Beale’s patrons, painting technique, and family affairs. Her portraits of politicians, clergy, aristocracy, and intellectuals reflect the vibrant literary, scientific, and political scene of the seventeenth century. 

Beale is recognized as a feminist icon for her success in the male-driven world of portrait painting, and in addition to being a professional artist, she was also a poet and author. Her book Discourse on Friendship, published in 1667, argued for the equality of husband and wife in marriage—a radical concept at that time. My Dearest Heart, the first biography of Mary Beale, features more than 120 color illustrations of her ground-breaking artistry.

208 pages | 120 color plates | 8 x 9 1/2

Art: Art--General Studies

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"Hunting's admirably detailed reconstruction of Beale's networks puts the painter at the centre of London’s artistic, literary and scientific life. . . . The detail and sympathy of her biography make it a fitting tribute to a woman who is again being recognised as a major figure in 17th-century British portraiture."


"This book provides a rich source for further research on Mary Beale, as a woman artist, a writer, and a member of important intellectual and social circles of the time. It includes a useful index and is beautifully produced and printed on glossy paper with over one hundred color reproductions, all offered at an unusually reasonable price."

Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal

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