KEABLE OR KEEBLE, William

c.1714 - 1774

William Keable (centre)

Born in East Anglia. A moderately successful painter of portraits and small conversation-pieces, a member of St Martin’s Lane Academy 1754. He was patronised by a number of American Colonists travelling in London, particularly from Charleston, South Carolina. Two such works, the 1749 portraits of Mrs Benjamin Smith (1722-1760) and her brother-in-law Thomas Smith Jr (1719-1790), were exhibited in the Gibbes Museum of Art 1999 exhibition ‘In Pursuit of Refinement - Charlestonians Abroad 1740-1860’, and show the important transfer of artistic taste from mid-eighteenth century England to the Americas. He produced a number of charming, small full-lengths in the manner of Hayman and Devis, although he also painted large scale pieces. An amateur musician as well as a painter and his role as the flautist implies that he served Crokatt and Muilman as a music master and perhaps also taught them drawing and may have become acquainted with Gainsborough through artistic circles in Suffolk, or musical ones, such as the Ipswich Musical Club, since Gainsborough was himself a talented amateur musician. It was perhaps through a lack of ready patronage that Keable had left to settle in Italy by 1761, where he pained a portrait of Castruccio Bonamici Gandolphi, becoming Accademico della Clementina 1770. Keable was buried at Livorno, Tuscany on 12 January 1774. A label on the back of the stretcher of this conversation piece states that Keable painted the figures and Gainsborough the landscape, although this view has long been disregarded by most Gainsborough scholars.




Works by This Painter