Museum Highlight

Elise S. Beach

This could well have been a watercolour painted earlier in the year, a scene of street parties all over Reading marking the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. But take a closer look… the date is 1935. [Highlighted: Sep 2022]

Bembridge Place, Reading, May, 1935
Elise S. Beach (1864–1954)

29cm x 23cm
Date: 1935

RGA member 1930-1947
Reading Museum Accession Number
REDMG : 2009.138.1

This watercolour of the Jubilee Day celebrations on Bembridge Place (which runs off the King’s Road towards the Kennet and Avon Canal) was exhibited at the Reading Guild of Artists 6th Annual Exhibition, November 1935 at The Art Gallery, Reading, catalogue No 74.

The Silver Jubilee referred to in the painting was that of George V, celebrated on 6 May 1935. The Jubilee was to mark the King’s 25 years on the thrown with large-scale street parties and events throughout the United Kingdom, possibly the first of this kind. The King died less than a year later.

Elise Sophia Beach was the great-great-grand-niece of famous portrait painter Thomas Beach (1738-1806) a favourite pupil of Sir Joshua Reynolds. Elise is the author of the biography Thomas Beach: A Dorset Portrait Painter, published in 1934. Born in 1864 in Bradpole Dorset, Elise lived in Reading for over 60 years having moved to Reading with her parents, the Canon W.R. Beach and his wife Sophia. They resided in Ailsa House, King’s Road, Reading where she lived until her death in 1954, aged 89. The 1911 census gives her occupation as Painter (artist).

Elise was a member of the Reading Guild of Artists (RGA) from the very beginning in 1930 (serving on the RGA Council in the first year), she exhibited regularly at the Annual Exhibition until 1947. The artist worked mainly in oils, and occasionally in watercolour, painting local scenes and buildings and also flowers.

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