Henry William Beechey

Birth: 1790


Henry William Beechey (1790 - 4 August 1862) was an English painter and explorer, was a son of Sir William Beechey, R. A., and followed his father's profession. He sent a marine subject to the Royal Academy in 1829, and another in 1838 to the British Institution (Graves's Dict. of Artists, 1760-1880, p. 18). Some time before 1816 he had become secretary to Mr. Salt, the British consul-general in Egypt, and at the latter's request accompanied Belzoni in that and the following year beyond the second cataract, for the purpose of studying and making designs of the fine monuments existing at Thebes.

In the laborious excavation of the temple of Ipsambul, Beechey took his share; he also copied the paintings, in the king's tombs in the valley of Biban-el-Muluk, which had lately been opened by Belzoni. In common with his employer, Mr. Salt, Beechey had much to endure from Belzoni's suspicious and jealous nature (Life and Correspondence of Henry Salt, ed. Halls, vol. ii.) About 1820 he returned to England, and the next year was appointed by Earl Bathurst, on the part of the colonial office, to examine and report on the antiquities of the Cyrenaica, his brother, Captain Beechey, having been detached to survey the coast-line from Tripoli to Derna.

The results of this expedition, which occupied the greater part of the years 1821 and 1822, were chronicled in a journal kept by the brothers, to which the pencil of Henry Beechey lent additional interest by numerous charming drawings, illustrative of the art and natural peculiarities of the classic region they were exploring, many of which were unfortunately left out when the narrative came to be published in 1828 (Gent. Mag. 3rd ser. ii. 109).

Of the remainder of Beechey's life we have failed to recover any particulars. He had seen much vicissitude, and in 1855 emigrated to New Zealand, where he is believed by his relatives to have died in or about 1870. He left a family. Besides his share in the above-mentioned work Beechey wrote a painstaking memoir of Sir Joshua Reynolds, prefixed to the edition of the latter's 'Literary Works,' published in 2 vols. 8vo, London, 1835, and afterwards reprinted in Bohn's 'Standard Library' edition, 2 vols. 8vo, London, 1852. Beechey became a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1825.

Gordon Goodwin, Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 04. pg. 122.

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