James Paine (1717?-1789) Architect, with his Son James (1745-1829)
- 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).
Joshua Reynolds was the dominant artistic personality during the age of George III. He was born in Plympton, Devon. From 1750 to 1752 he studied the work of the Old Masters in Rome. Reynolds returned via Florence and Paris, and settled in London in 1753. In 1759 he painted a portrait of the future king, George, Prince of Wales (Royal Collection). After George’s accession the following year, Reynolds was dismayed to learn that Allan Ramsay had been made Principal Painter to the King. This marked the beginning of increasing hostility between Reynolds and the King. Nonetheless, by 1760 Reynolds had established himself as the leading portraitist. He became President of the Royal Academy in 1768 and was knighted the following year.