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Drawn while inspecting a picture at the British Institution, Beaumont was the most influential connoisseur and patron of painting and poetry in Regency London. He intensely disliked Turner's work and was distinctly cool towards Byron, whose intellect Lady Beaumont - also a lover of poetry - considered 'near derangement'. The Beaumonts preferred to support Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey, the Lake Poets whom Byron satirised in his first popular poem, 'English Bards and Scotch Reviewers' (1809). Turner and Byron might well have made common cause over this arbiter of taste, who saw nothing in one of them and everything in the colleagues the other most despised.

August 2004