|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|
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.