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Thomas Law Hodges (1776-1857) of Hemsted Place, Cranbrook, Kent, was for many years a Member of Parliament for that county. An old inscription on the back states that the sitter is eighteen years old. This would date the picture to 1794, so that it is probably the protrait of 'Mr Hodges' which Beechey exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1795.
Overshadowed first by Reynolds and later by Lawrence, Beechey nevertheless had a distinguished career as a portrait painter that spanned more than sixty years. He was patronized by the royal family and knighted in 1793. With its strong likeness and vigorous rendering of youthful vitality, this picture is one of Beechey's best male portraits.

August 2004