Inscribed in ink below plate, lower right and left: 486 [?] / 9 1//11 [?]
Printed, lower left and right: T, Frye Pictor Inv,t & Sculp,t / 1760,
Printed, lower center: BW:W / 1834
Printed, lower left corner: BW [possibly Bernard Wilhelm]
In 1760 the pastel portraitist and porcelain manufacturer Thomas Frye turned to mezzotint. This work belongs to a set of twelve expressive and dramatically lit male and female heads, remarkable at the time for their size and close-up viewpoint. In publishing these prints, based on his own drawings, he advertised them as “Fancy Heads . . . Drawn from Nature and as Large as Life.” Like most of the sitters in the series, this enigmatic gentleman is not identifiable. His lavish and exotic attire vividly evokes the contemporary fascination with Ottoman dress and culture, which inspired portraits of turbaned British aristocrats.
Constance McPhee, “Joseph Wright’s Pastel Portrait of a Woman Part II: Sources, Meaning, and Context,” Metropolitan Museum journal 44 (2009)
Charles E. Russell, English mezzotint portraits and their states from the invention of mezzotinting until the early part of the 19th century (London: Halton & T. Smith, Ltd., 1926).
John Chaloner Smith, British mezzotinto portraits; being a descriptive catalogue of these engravings from the introduction of the art to the early part of the present century (London: H. Sotheran & Co., 1883).
J. Chaloner Smith, One Hundred and Twenty-five Portraits in Illustration of British Mezzotinto Portraits (London: Henry Sotheran & Co, 1883).
Georg Kasper Nagler, Neues allgemeines Künstler-Lexicon; oder, Nachrichten von dem leben und den werken der maler, bildhauer, baumeister, kupferstecher, etc., (München: E. A. Fleischmann, 1835-52).
John Boydell, Catalogue raisonné d'un recueil d'estampes d'aprés les plus beaux tableaux qui soient en Angleterre (Londres: Chez le proprietaire, graveur, & marchand d'estampes, 1779-83).