James Watson after H. D. Hamilton.
Ann, Countess of Cork and Orrery.
11 x15 inches.
Ann was the daughter of Kelland Courtenay who married the 7th Earl of Cork and Orrery in 1764. The marriage was a notoriously unhappy one and ended in divorce in 1782, only 3 years before she died in 1785. The tempestuous union is chronicled in Mrs. Delany's memoirs.
James Watson was born in Ireland in 1740 and died in London at the age of 50 in 1790. His brother William was an artist based in Dublin but James does not appear to have started work as an engraver until he came to London and studied under McArdell. There are many comparisons between the work of Watson and McArdell and both went on to excel as mezzotint engravers. His daughter Caroline went on to be an engraver in her own right and was appointed engraver to the queen in 1785.
James Watson was a perfectionist and had a reputation for scrapping plates that did not meet his high standards, choosing to start again rather than rework or alter a plate, as less scrupulous artists would have done. Some of his works were published from his own address but the majority appear to have originated from various print-sellers. His output was prolific and his portraits include many of the leading figures of the day.