Cotes, Francis (DNB00)

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COTES, FRANCIS, R.A. (1725?–1770), portrait painter, born in London about 1725, was the son of Robert Cotes, an apothecary in Cork Street, Burlington Gardens, who had been mayor of Galway, but who, having fallen under the censure of the Irish House of Commons, left Ireland, and settled in London about 1720. Young Cotes became a pupil of George Knapton, and soon outstripped his master. He became eminent for his portraits in crayons, in which branch of art he surpassed all his predecessors, though it has been said that he owed something of his excellence to the study of the works of Rosalba. He also painted in oil colours with considerable ability, and his portraits are often good pictures, although somewhat hard and coarsely pencilled. Hogarth declared, probably not without a little malice, that Cotes was a better painter than Reynolds; but this opinion posterity has not endorsed. His crayon portraits are well drawn and have been much admired, and among them none are better than that of Queen Charlotte, with the Princess Royal asleep on her lap, belonging to the Duke of Northumberland, which was exhibited in the National Portrait Exhibition of 1867. Cotes was at one time a member of the Incorporated Society of Artists, at whose exhibitions he exhibited forty-eight pictures, but he seceded from it, and was one of the artists who memorialised George III for the establishment of the Royal Academy of Arts, of which he became one of the first academicians. He enjoyed a reputation in his day, and fashion followed him from London to Bath, and back again. He was very early in life afflicted with stone, to which he fell a victim before he attained the age of forty-five, through having imprudently taken soaplees as a cure. He died 19 July 1770 at Richmond, Surrey, where he was buried. His residence, 32 Cavendish Square, London, was afterwards occupied by Romney, and then by Sir Martin Archer Shee. Among his best portraits in oil are the group of Joah Bates [q. v.] and his wife, in the possession of Mr. Henry Littleton, the full-length portrait of Admiral Lord Hawke at Greenwich Hospital, a portrait of Mary, duchess of Norfolk, at Arundel Castle, and that of his father, his diploma work, in the Royal Academy. Most of his draperies were painted by Peter Toms, R.A. Many of his portraits have been engraved by McArdell, Houston, Valentine Green, James Watson, and others. The only portrait of him which ever existed was a large miniature painted from memory by his brother, Samuel Cotes [q. v.]

[Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting, ed. Wornum, 1849, ii. 711; Edwards's Anecdotes of Painters, 1808, p. 33; Sandby's Hist. of the Royal Academy of Arts, 1862, i. 95; Redgraves' Century of Painters of the English School, 1866, i. 42; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists of the English School, 1878; Seguier's Critical and Commercial Dict. of the Works of Painters, 1870.]

R. E. G.