Watson, James (1739?-1790) (DNB00)

WATSON, JAMES (1739?–1790), engraver, was born in Ireland in, or more probably before, 1740, and came when young to London, where he is supposed to have been a pupil of James Macardell [q. v.] He became one of the leading mezzotint-engravers of his time, and produced many excellent plates from pictures by Reynolds, Gainsborough, Cotes, Catherine Read, Van Dyck, Metzu, Schalken, Rubens, and others. He engraved about fifty portraits after Reynolds, among the finest of which are those of the Duchess of Cumberland; the Duchess of Manchester, with her son; Countess Spencer and her daughter; Barbara, countess of Coventry; Anne Delaval, Lady Stanhope, and Nelly O'Brien. Watson published some of his works himself at his house in Little Queen Anne Street, Portland Chapel; but the majority were done for Sayer, Boydell, and other printsellers. He exhibited engravings with the Incorporated Society of Artists between 1762 and 1775, and died in Fitzroy Street, London, on 20 May 1790.

Caroline Watson (1761?–1814), daughter of James Watson, was born in London in 1760 or 1761, and studied under her father. She worked in the stipple method with much skill and refinement, and her plates are numerous. In 1784 she engraved a portrait of Prince William of Gloucester, after Reynolds, and in 1785 a pair of small plates of the Princesses Sophia and Mary, after Hoppner, which she dedicated to the queen, and was then appointed engraver to her majesty. Of her other works, the best are the portraits of Sir James Harris and the Hon. Mrs. Stanhope, both after Reynolds; Catherine II, after Rosselin; and William Woollett, after G. Stuart; S. Cooper's reputed portrait of Milton; ‘The Marriage of St. Catherine,’ after Correggio, and the plates to Hayley's ‘Life of Romney.’ For Boydell's Shakespeare Miss Watson engraved the ‘Death of Cardinal Beaufort,’ after Reynolds, and a scene from the ‘Tempest,’ after Wheatley. She also executed a set of aquatints of the ‘Progress of Female Virtue and Female Dissipation,’ from designs by Maria Cosway. She engraved several pictures belonging to the Marquis of Bute. She died at Pimlico on 10 June 1814.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Graves's Dict. of Artists, 1760–93; J. Chaloner Smith's British Mezzotinto Portraits; Le Blanc's Manuel de l'Amateur d'Estampes; Gent. Mag. 1814, i. 700; Thomas Watson, James Watson, and Elizabeth Judkins, by Gordon Goodwin, 1904.]

F. M. O'D.