Mr. S. Northcote, of Plymouth 1785

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Mr. S. Northcote, of Plymouth 1785
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A very rare, early mezzotint executed by Reynolds at the outset of his career. A portrait of the father of the artist James Northcote (1746-1831), half length, engraved enclosed in an oval surrounded by a square architectural frame. The Plymouth watchmaker Samuel Northcote is dramatically good looking with wild dark hair and wears a dark coat and striped waistcoat. Samuel had insisted on apprenticing his son in his watchmaking business. In 1771 James finally came to London armed with an introduction to Sir Joshua Reynolds and was accepted as a pupil. In 1775 Northcote reluctantly left Reynolds and returned to Devonshire where he soon started to make a small amount of money as a portrait painter . In March 1777 he set out alone for Italy, not knowing any language but his own, spending the next three years in the study of the old masters at Rome. Returning home, in 1785 he came to the notice of the great print publisher Alderman John Boydell and was soon caught up in Boydell's great Shakespeare Gallery undertaking, which made Northcote's reputation and assured his success as an artist. This portrait of his father was probably published to mark the beginning of Northcote's association with Boydell. Not in Chaloner-Smith.