Dick Beer was a cosmopolitan almost out of genetic necessity. The Beer were Swedes, but only since 1822 when the German Johann Adolph Ferdinand Beer is engaged as first violonist at the Royal Court Orchestra in Stockholm (which he ended by directing). The latter had converted to Lutheranism as to be better accepted in bourgeois and aristocratic circles dominated by anti-Semitism, and when marrying into a non-Jewish family of German musicians). Though coming from Hamburg, it is plausible that Johann Adolph Beer was a member of the influent Beer family of Berlin (where Johann Adolph lived after retiring died). The Prussian capital had seen a steady flow of Beer bankers and musicians during three centuries. Amalie Beer (1767-1854) held there a reputed intellectual salon, she also was the mother of the writer Michael Beer and of the composer Giacomo Meyerbeer. Anyway, the Swedish branch maintains such family traditions: the eldest son Georg becomes a businessman in view in the capital and frequents the Swedish court of king Charles XV. His sister Charlotte Mathilde is co-opted by the great European nobility by marrying first Enrique von Scholtz Hermensdorff, marquess de Belvis and heir to Malaga´s largest wine firm, then in a second marriage the duke de Parcent, of one of Andalusia´s oldest families. Of Charlotte Mathilde´s two daughters, one was to marry the rich diplomat Manuel d´Iribarne and residing in Paris, the other the marquess d´Ivanrey. The daughter of Mrs d´Iribarne married in her turn prince Max von Hohenlohe. The horse and watercolour painter John Beer, Dick’s father, belongs to the third generation on Swedish soil and makes an artistic career in the United States, Imperial Russia (where his brother Hugo was a businessman) and England. A specialist of horse races, a refined aquarellist, mundane, John Beer is considered one of the most sought after horse illustrators of the Victorian age (Illustrated London News, The Graphic, Black and White, and many others). Counting with the favours of the prince of Wales, Dick Beer’s father had a brilliant social life. Oscar Wilde, James McNeill Whistler and Caruso were among the habitués in the Beer home in London.

Robert Amberlin (© 2002)