Margaret Field, Mrs James Samuel Beale (1847-1936)
Sir William Newzam Prior Nicholson (Newark-on-Trent 1872 – Berkshire 1949)
Painted by Sir William Nicholson, Mrs Beale is seen knitting, as if the time spent sitting for her portrait could be made good use of. When the grandchildren visited they remembered that they were rarely left with nothing to do with their hands with the older ones embroidering and the tiny ones threading beads onto string. Nicholson initially worked on printmaking, but after 1900, encouraged by Whistler, he concentrated on paintings. The colours and pose of the sitter is reminiscent of Whistler’s portrait of his mother ‘Arrangement in Grey and Black: The Artist's Mother’ from the 1870s.
Oil painting on canvas, Margaret Field, Mrs James Samuel Beale (1847-1936) by Sir William Nicholson (Newark-on-Trent 1872 – Berkshire 1949), signed and dated lower right: Nicholson 1905. A half-length portrait of a mature woman, seated, turned to the left, left profile, crocheting. The sitter was the daughter of a successful Midlands solicitor. Algernon Sydney Field, and the wife of James Beale whom she marrried in 1870 and together they had seven children. As they would have been married for 25 years in 1905 this painting may have been a silver-wedding present but it was not intended as a companion piece to the portrait of him. She designed part of the gardens at Standen and was a fine needlewoman.
Commissioned by the sitter's husband, James Beale; on loan from the Executors of the Estate of Miss Helen M. Beale; given by Phyllis Wager (last surviving granddaughter of James and Margaret Beale), March 2009
Standen, The Beale Collection (National Trust)
Makers and roles
Sir William Newzam Prior Nicholson (Newark-on-Trent 1872 – Berkshire 1949), artist
Reed 2011 Patricia Reed, William Nicholson Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, Yale Universiy Press, 2011, 65