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My Dearest Heart

The Artist Mary Beale (1633-1699)
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Mary Beale (1633-1699) was one of the earliest professional women artists in Britain. Her successful career was documented by her husband, Charles, whose almanacks provide a unique record of Mary'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. She has been seen as a feminist icon not only as a professional artist but also as a poet and the author of a `Discourse on Friendship' (1667) which argued for the equality of husband and wife in marriage - a radical concept at that time.
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