Charles Beale Jun., born Fleet Street, London, was the second son of Charles Beale and Mary Beale, an artist herself. According to an entry in their father's diary, now in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, Charles and his brother were put to copying the works of Van Dyck and Lely and frequented the latter's studio. Drawings from the Italian masters were also borrowed from the Royal Collection to copy. In 1676/7 Charles turned to the practise of limning under the guidance of Thomas Flatman. By 1680/1 Beale was engaged in assisting his mother in completing portrait commissions finishing the draperies and backgrounds. Despite Vertue recording that he suffered from a weakness of sight and was forced to give up executing miniatures after four or five years, a portrait of 4th Earl Lauderdale in the Victoria and Albert Museum dated 1688 appears to disprove this. A third sketch book, attests to his still working as late as 1721.
The majority of Beale's drawings are now in public collections and it is not known how the present sketches became separated from the known sketchbooks. The British Museum has a large holding of Beale's drawings; the majority of which came from one album, which were bequeathed to the British Museum by Reverend C.M. Cracherode in 1799. Another sketchbook, probably part of the same one as that in the British Museum is in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York. Two further sketchbooks are known to exist and were formerly in the possession of two members of the Beale family; a number of subjects in these books have been named by the artist. There is another sketchbook now attributed to Charles Beale in the Victoria and Albert Museum and three drawings in the Collection of the Huntingdon Museum and Art Gallery, California.
Beale employs a distinctive technique of cross hatching to model the figures as seen in these drawings. These intimate drawings in red chalk, often of close friends or members of his family, have no parallel in English art of this period, being closer to work of Dutch genre painters such as Gabriel Metsu, Gerard van Honthorst or Sir John Baptiste Medina.
An unidentified drawing in the British Museum seems to resemble the young boy in profile to the left in the present drawings, see E. Croft-Murray and P. Hulton, The British Museum; Drawings by British Artists, London, 1960, vol. 1, pl. 79.