Lady Mary Boynton
Mezzotintpublished 10 August 1770
- About the work
About the artist
James Watson was born in Dublin and initially trained at the Dublin Society. He later travelled to London, probably as a pupil of Irish printmaker James Macardell. Watson exhibited as a mezzotint engraver at the Society of Artists (1762-75), later becoming a fellow and, in 1770, the Director. After Macardell’s death in 1765, he inherited the role of principal engraver to Reynolds. He also engraved works by Gainsborough, Cotes, van Dyck, Rubens and others. From c.1762 he published his own works. He was able to enter semi-retirement by 1778 and, during his career of some 30 years, produced around 200 plates, most of which were portraits. He died in 1790 leaving a daughter, Caroline (also an engraver), and a son, James Edmund (a lawyer).
Portrait painter Francis Cotes was born in London; the son of a pharmacist and elder brother of the miniaturist Samuel Cotes. He was probably the most accomplished 18th-century British artist in the medium of pastels. From about 1757 he began to produce more work in oils. The drapery in his oil portraits was often painted by Peter Toms, who also worked for Sir Joshua Reynolds. Cotes became a founder member of the Royal Academy of Arts and exhibited 18 portraits at the Academy’s first two exhibitions of 1769 and 1770. However, by 1770 he was suffering from either kidney stones or gallstones. In the hope of dissolving them, Cotes drank a soap-based potion, which led to his death, by poisoning, on 19 July 1770.