[Gentleman with Cape]
18 x 22.5 inches
A half-length mezzotint portrait by Thomas Frye; published in Hatton Garden, London in 1760.
This print is one from the first series of life-sized heads produced by Thomas Frye in 1760. We do not know the identity of this sitter but we see him in profile, facing to the right with head inclined and chin resting on his fingers. An elaborate shirt ruff and silk cape suggest a gentleman of certain wealth. The sitter looks pensively away from the artist and displays the characteristically long and delicate fingers associated with Frye's portraits. There were 12 studies in Frye's first series of heads including a self-portrait. Challoner Smith lists this particular image as plate number 14 and suggests that it is the same sitter as another in the series, number 17. Not all of Frye's subjects are anonymous and he most famously produced a magnificent pair of mezzotint portraits of King George III and Queen Charlotte. Sadly, he suffered from poor health and soon after this print was produced, he succumbed to the ill effects of alcoholism and gout and died of consumption in 1762 at the age of 52. He was friends with Sir Joshua Reynolds and painted many an illustrious personage including Frederick, the Prince of Wales. He left behind him a fascinating oeuvre of work on both canvas and copper plate but it is his series of life-sized heads in mezzotint for which he is best remembered.