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Francis Cotes - British Artist From Art History

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Historical Artist - Francis Cotes (1726 - 1770)

Francis Cotes began his career as a portraitist who worked in oils and pastels. His reputation in England as a talented pastel painter was established by the 1760’s. He co-founded to Society of Artists and was its director beginning in 1765. He also became a founding member of the Royal Academy three years later. In his late career, Cotes painted mostly in oils, which were less laborious and more lucrative. He died prematurely at the age of forty-four. Born in London, the eldest son of Robert Cotes, an apothecary (Francis's younger brother Samuel Cotes (1734–1818) also became an artist, specialising in miniatures), and trained with portrait painter George Knapton (1698–1778) before setting up his own business in his father's business premises in London's Cork Street — learning, incidentally, much about chemistry to inform his making of pastels. An admirer of the pastel drawings of Rosalba Carriera, Cotes concentrated on works in pastel and crayon (some of which became well-known as engravings), but later added oil painting to his repertoire. In 1763, he bought a large house (later occupied by George Romney) in Cavendish Square. One of the most fashionable portrait painters of his day, Cotes helped found the Society of Artists and became its director in 1765. At the peak of his powers, Cotes was invited to become one of the first members of the Royal Academy, but died just two years later, aged 44, in Richmond.

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