The portrait by Mary Beale (1633- 99) in Dulwich Picture Gallery.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Art UK, a charity with a website showcasing artworks in UK public collections, runs the Art Detective forum where specialists and members of the public are invited to help fill in gaps in the knowledge of public art.

Its latest question concerns this portrait by Mary Beale (1633-99) in the Dulwich Picture Gallery in south london. The sitter is not known.

Can you help to identify the sitter, who is holding an anatomical drawing? Suggestions for his identity include the physician-poet Sir Richard Blackmore (d.1729) and the physician Sir Edmund King (1629- 1709). Jennifer Scott, Sackler director of Dulwich Picture Gallery, said: “He is a professional man who can afford to have his portrait painted by one of the very best.”

Scott discussed the portrait in Art Unlocked, an online talk series developed by Art UK in collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies, on June 16 (see

The attribution to Beale has been made independently by several art historians. Beale had a studio in Pall Mall and her portraits were in great demand at the height of her career in the 1670s.

The Dulwich Picture Gallery also noted that the pose matches that of Godfrey Kneller’s 1690 portrait of the shipbuilder Sir Anthony Deane holding a drawing of a ship (National Portrait Gallery). View this picture online here:

If you have information that may help visit and post your comments or write to ATG via the usual channels.

The network is run by Art Detective manager Marion Richards, who works with 22 subject specialist group leaders.

Art UK relies on donations to continue making discoveries. To support its work visit the website below: