Cotes, Francis

, an English artist, was one of the founders of the Royal Academy, he and three others (Moser, West, and Chambers) being the only persons who signed the petition presented to his Majesty, to solicit that establishment. He was the son of an apothecary, who resided in Cork-street, Burlington-gardens, and was born in 1726. He was the pupil of Knapton, but in the sequel much excelled his master. He was particularly eminent for his portraits in crayons, in which branch of the art he surpassed all his predecessors; though it must be confessed that he owed something of his excellence to the study of the portraits of Rosalba. He also painted with considerable ability in oil colours; and at one time Hogarth declared him to be superior to sir Joshua Reynolds; an opinion, however, which must have arisen from some prejudice, for sir Joshua had then produced some of his best portraits. But though those of Cotes deserve not this high character, they were very pleasing, well finished, coloured with great spirit, and, by the aid of Mr. Toms’s draperies (who generally supplied him with these), were justly ranked with the best portraits of the time. Yet his greatest excellence was in crayons, which were much improved under his hands, both in their preparation and application. Lord Orford says, that his pictures of the queen holding the princess royal, then an infant, in her lap; of his own wife; of Polly Jones, a woman of pleasure; of Mr. Obryen, the comedian; of Mrs. Child, of Osterley-park; and of Miss Wilton, afterwards lady Chambers; are portraits which, if they yield to Rosalba’s in softness, excel hers in vivacity and invention.

Mr. Cotes was, very early in life, afflicted with the stone; and before he attained the age of forty-five, fell a victim to that disease. He died at his house in Cavendishsquare, July 20, 1770, and was buried at Richmond, | Surrey. His younger brother, Samuel Cotes, painted miniatures, both in enamel and water-colours, and was in great practice during the life of the elder, but quitted the art some years ago. 1

1 Walpole’s Anecdotes, and Edwards’s Supplement,