Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Francis Cotes: Portrait of an Unknown Lady

​Francis Cotes RA (London, England, 20th May 1726 – London, England, 16th July 1770)
 
Francis Cotes by D.P. Pariset, 1768
Francis Cotes by D.P. Pariset, 1768

Today marks the anniversary of the birth of Francis Cotes, celebrated pastelist and a founder of the illustrious Royal Academy. Continuing my occasional series on artworks that have caught my eye, I thought it might nice to take a closer look at Portrait of a Lady, a 1768 work by Cotes that depicts a mysterious unnamed sitter.

Portrait of a Lady by Francis Cotes, 1768
Portrait of a Lady by Francis Cotes, 1768

Cotes was at the height of his fame when this work was produced; a favourite of the most illustrious names in England, he was noted for his lightness of touch and the delicate beauty he brought to his subjects. This work is certainly no exception and is an exemplary example of his talent. It is particularly notable for the detail of the gown and this is likely to have been the work of Peter Toms. A founding member of the Royal Academy, Toms was a drapery painter who had worked with with Cotes for several years and would go on to perform drapery painting for many other notable artists.

The unknown lady is, of course, enormously and luxuriously fashionable. Pale and graceful in her layers of silk and lace, she is perfectly at home in the outdoor setting in which Cotes has depicted her. This poised woman has been variously named as a posthumous Kitty Fisher, an aristocratic lady or a courtesan but she remains, for now, unnamed. One can only imagine at the story behind the portrait and for me, that makes it all the more irresistible.

17 comments:

  1. I am always astounded by the skill with which these artists bring their works to life!

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    1. As someone with zero artistic ability, I am usually left in awe!

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  2. It amazes me how you can do one of these a day. And how much it adds to my day.

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    1. I'm really glad you enjoy the blog, it's immensely rewarding to hear!

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  3. The sitter was originally said to be Kitty Fischer (famed courtesan of her time), but she died in 1767 so it could not have been her. It is now thought to be a member of the Yorke family which is the family name of the Earl of Hardwicke and would made sense as the Earl of Hardwicke sold the painting at Christie's in 1888.

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    1. She does look a lot like Kitty, it's true.

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  4. This is a gorgeous painting and has captured my imagination. It will look lovely in my Georgian themed boudoir; thank you Madame Gilflurt.

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    1. It'sa pleasure as everl I can't wait to hear more about the themed boudoir!

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  5. Kitty has sent me some images of my jewellery box and the portrait which will go on it is gorgeous. Can't wait for it to be finished.

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    1. I'm so excited to see some pictures; the jewellery boxes are gorgeous, aren't they? I love mine!

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    2. Every so often... I dream of wearing dresses like that and walking gracefully through a grand house... then I spill my potato chips on my jeans and come to my senses.

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  6. I think I might have to commission some more pieces; I could re-do the whole house! I'll email you some photos once it is done.

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    1. I've got another reserved that Kitty's working on at the moment. I saw it on Twitter and had to have it!

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  7. Your taste in art is as exquisite as the portrait,Madame. Thank you,as ever for another wonderful post.

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