James Northcote was born in Plymouth and moved to London in 1771. There he entered the Royal Academy Schools and worked as an assistant to Joshua Reynolds, first president of the Royal Academy. He travelled to Italy in 1777 and was elected to artists’ academies in Florence, Rome and Cortona. After returning to England in 1780 he established a practice as a portrait painter and exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy from 1781. Northcote was elected an Associate of the RA in 1786 and a full Academician the following year.
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