Francis Cotes (English, 1726 - 1770)
Double Portrait, 1757, pastel on blue laid
paper mounted on canvas.
Bequest of Alice Speed Stoll. Frame conservation funded
by Edith and Jacob Horn, The Horn Foundation 1998.6.2
During the eighteenth century Francis Cotes was almost
as celebrated in England as Sir Joshua Reynolds and
Thomas Gainsborough. He was one of the pioneers of English
pastel painting and a founding member of the Royal Academy.
A fashionable painter of his day, he was highly sought
after as a portraitist. This is a rare double portrait
in pastels of two girls. They are likely sisters; they
wear youthful dresses but are adorned with adult earrings.
The clothing suggests that the girls are almost ready
for marriage and the pastel also indicates that the
girls would make good wives. Potential suitors would
understand their walk in the woods as a sign of their
natural, down-to-earth nature, and the dog is a symbol
of their loyalty and fidelity.