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Richard Beavis (1824-1896)

He was born in Exmouth, England in 1824. The son of a cobbler, Beavis resisted his father's attempts to bring him up in his own trade and instead passed his time scribbling all over the white-washed walls of the house. He cleverly sketched horses, dogs, cows, sheep and other sundry objects of everyday life - a pastime that caused many quarrels in the house. Encouraged by his friends, he moved to London in 1846 and enrolled as a student at the Government School of Design at Somerset House, which housed the Royal Academy and the Society of Antiquaries.

In 1850 he became designer to Messrs Trollope, a firm of decorators, and with him as designer the firm competed successfully for three international competitions. It was with these designs that he first exhibited works at the Royal Academy.

However, Beavis' aspirations did not stop there. In his spare time, he worked with both oils and watercolours. After exhibiting several times at the British Institution he obtained admission in 1862 to the Royal Academy with two pictures: A Mountain Rill and Fishermen Picking Up Wreck At Sea. The artistic and financial success of these works was sufficient to justify devoting himself purely to artistic production and he became a regular contributor to the exhibitions.

Beavis took little time to create his reputation, becoming a national sensation quickly. His watercolours and oils alike found constant favour with the public and from 1852 to 1896 he successfully exhibited at the Royal Academy, winning prizes for a variety of subjects. He favoured painting landscapes of Bretagne and the forest of Fontainebleau inspired by his French contemporaries in the Barbizon school.

He exhibited over three hundred works in the principal London exhibitions, and some of these works can still be seen in various museums and art galleries - at Glasgow, Sheffield, Sunderland, Melbourne and the Victoria & Albert.

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