Balthazar Beschey (Flemish, 1708 – 1776)

The Assumption of the Virgin

WEB IMAGE 017The Assumption of the Virgin, Balthazar Beschey (Flemish, 1708 – 1776), signed, oil on panel, 30″ x 20″ 

Balthazar Beschey (or Besschey) was a professor and Director of the Academy of Arts in Antwerp, Dean of the Painter’s Guild of Saint Luke, and helped establish the Rubens Studio in Antwerp.

Beschey was born at Antwerp in 1708 and studied under Pieter Strick, an unknown painter who imitated the styles of accomplished Antwerp painters. In 1753 Beschey was admitted to the Painter’s Guild of St Luke in Antwerp and two years later he was elected Dean of the Guild of Saint Luke (1775-1776). In 1755 he was made one of the six directors of the Academy of Arts in Antwerp. Using his influential position at the Academy, Beschey sought to revive traditional practices through the study of Rubens. Among his pupils were Pierre Joseph Verhagen, Guillaume-Jacques Herreyns, and Andries Cornelis Lens. Beschey held the position of Professor at the Academy of Arts in Antwerp up until his death in 1776.

Beschey began his career as a landscape painter, but later switched to history and portrait painting. Near the end of his life he concentrated almost exclusively on religious subject matter. Balthasar also operated an art restoration workshop and art dealership in Antwerp. Thanks to his connections in England through his brother Jan Frans, he was able to export Flemish paintings to England.

His works can be found in the Louvre, Hermitage Museum, Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, and other important museums and private collections around the world.

Antwerp, Royal Museum of Fine Arts:

  • Joseph sold by his brothers (signed and dated 1744)
  • The brothers try to buy corn from Joseph, the Vice-Roy of Egypt (signed and dated 1744)
  • Self-portrait (signed — donated by the artist to the Academy of Antwerp in 1763)
  • Portrait of the painter Martin Joseph Geeraerts 

Paris, Louvre Museum

  • Portrait of a Family (signed and dated 1721)

Saint Petersburg, Hermitage Museum

  • The Five Senses, Allegory of Eyesight and the Sense of Touch, Signed and dated: B. BESCHEIJ, 1733
  • The Five Senses, Allegory of Hearing, Taste and Smell, Signed and dated: B. BESCHEIJ

It has been recorded that Beschey had a son who was a painter, but this is a mistake. He had, however, three younger brothers who followed his profession, under his instruction, and one elder brother, who was a pupil of Goovaert’s. This last mentioned was Carel Beschey, who was born at Antwerp in 1706. His younger brothers were Jacob Andreas Beschey (born at Antwerp in 1710); Joseph Hendrik Beschey (born at Antwerp in 171); and lastly, Jan François Beschey (born in 1717). Jan established himself as an art dealer in England, and became celebrated for the copies he made of the works of Rubens, Van Dyck, and other great masters. He was elected dean of the Guild of St. Luke in 1767.

REFERENCES:

This article incorporates text from the article “BESCHEY, Balthasar” in Bryan’s Dictionary of Painters and Engravers by Michael Bryan, edited by Robert Edmund Graves and Sir Walter Armstrong, an 1886–1889 publication