Bek, David

, a famous painter, born at Delft in the Netherlands, May 25, 1621, was trained under Van Dyke, and other celebrated masters. Skill in | his profession, joined to politeness of manners, acquired him esteem in almost all the courts of Europe. He was in high favour with Charles I. king of England, and taught the principles of drawing to his sons, Charles and James. He was afterwards in the service of the kings of France and Denmark: he went next into the service of Christina queen of Sweden, who esteemed him very highly, gave him many rich presents, and made him first gentleman of her bedchamber. She sent him also to Italy, Spain, France, England, Denmark, and to all the courts of Germany, to take the portraits of the different kings and princes; and then presented each of them with their pictures. His manner of painting was extremely free and quick, so that king Charles I. told him one day, “he believed he could paint while he was riding post.A very singular adventure happened to this painter, as he travelled through Germany, which seems not unworthy of being recited. He was suddenly and violently taken ill at the inn where he lodged, and was laid out as a corpse, seeming to all appearance quite dead. His valets expressed the strongest marks of grief for the loss of their master; and while they sat beside his bed, they drank very freely, by way of consolation. At last one of them, who grew much intoxicated, said to his companions, “Our master was fond of his glass while he was alive; and out of gratitude, let us give him a glass now he is dead.” As the rest of the servants assented to the proposal, he raised up the head of his master, and endeavoured to pour some of the liquor into his mouth. By the fragrance of the wine, or probably by a small quantity that imperceptibly got clown his throat, Bek opened his eyes; and the servant being excessively drunk, and forgetting that his master was considered as dead, compelled him to swallow what wine remained in the glass. The painter gradually revived, and by proper management and care recovered perfectly, and escaped an interment. How highly the works of this master were esteemed, may appear from the many marks of distinction and honour which were shewn him; for he received from different princes, as an acknowledgment of his singular merit, nine gold chains, and several medals of gold of a large size. The manner of his death is represented by the Dutch writers, as implying a reflection of his royal patroness the queen of Sweden. He was very desirous of returning to his native country, permission for which that princess refused, until having | occasion herself to go to France, Bek had the courage to ask leave to go to Holland. She granted this on condition he should punctually return within a certain number of weeks; but he went away with a determination never to return. She wrote to him to come to Paris, but he gave her no answer, and remained at the Hague, where he died suddenly, Dec. 20, 1656, not without suspicion of poison, as the Dutch writers insinuate. 1


Descamps. Pilkington. —Moreri.