John Raphael Smith (1752-1812)
The composition was engraved by Samuel Reynolds and became amongst the best known images of Fox.
This pastel portrait of Fox is almost certainly the prime version exhibited at the Royal Academy of 1802 by John Raphael Smith. The artist was born in Derby in 1752 and was apprenticed initially to a linen draper. He began painting miniatures and scraped his first mezzotint in 1769, eventually becoming the most celebrated engraver of the period.
On abandoning mezzotint engraving in 1802, Smith devoted himself exclusively to portraiture in pastel. This provided him with a lucrative practise, drawing some forty sitters a week at two guineas a head. Even when he increased his prices to eight guineas there was no fall in demand.
His patrons included prominent Whigs such as the Duke of Bedford, Lord Holland and Sir Francis Burdett. Smith's portraits of Fox are considered to be amongst the finest of these. When exhibited at the Academy of 1802, it was described by the Library of the Fine Arts, as at once simple and dignified; in action easy and natural, and in resemblance perhaps the most perfect that has appeared.
The artist subsequently produced a number of versions of the composition both in pastels and oil. One formerly in the collection of J.Thursby-Pelham (24 3/8 x 17 3/8 ins.) is extremely close to the present one but lacks some of its vitality. This pastel was executed in around 1802, towards the end of Fox's distinguished and turbulent political career. The composition was engraved by Samuel Reynolds and became amongst the best known images of Fox.
 Quoted in The Connoisseur, XCIII, Feb. 1934, p.98.
 Revolution of 1688.