James Gabriel (Jacques Gabriel) Huqier (1730 -1805)
The subject here is typical of Huquier’s clientele - generally the merchants and professional classes...
Jacques-Gabriel Huquier was born in Paris in 1730, the son of Gabriel Huquier (1695-1772), an engraver in the style of Watteau and Boucher. Known as ‘Huquier Fils’, Jacques-Gabriel married Anne-Louise, the daughter of the engraver Jacques Chéreau, in 1758 and they collaborated on designs and as printsellers. Business progressed well, with the opening of a shop selling fans and prints, as well as wallpaper in 1764, followed two years later by the establishment of a factory producing wallpaper. By 1768, however, after years of financial struggle, the business ran into difficulties and a sale of effects to pay creditors took place in Paris in 1768.
Huquier made frequent trips to England and in 1772, after his business in Paris has failed, he moved to England, leaving behind his wife and children. Initially he lived and worked in London, exhibiting at the Royal Academy and Society of Artists. He also worked in Bath, Bristol, Oxford and Cambridge, settling finally in Shrewsbury, where the current portrait was made. This portrait, showing the solicitor Rowley Thomas, deviates from his usual medium of pastel. Drawn during his time residing in Shrewsbury, the portrait is typical of the demographic of Huquier’s commissions, generally taken from the merchants and professional classes. One exception to this is probably his best-known portrait of the French spy, ambassador and transvestite Chevalier d'Eon, which was engraved in mezzotint by T. Burke. Huquier died in Shrewsbury in 1805.
 Huquier’s date of birth is traditionally given as 1725, but Neil Jeffares (http://www.pastellists.com/Articles/HUQUIER.pdf) has discovered new documentation giving his age at his marriage and moving his birth date to 1730. This date also concurs with the one given in the Dictionary of National Biography (online version).
 For an example of this engraving see British Museum number 1950,0520.86 (‘This is unusual among portrait prints of the Chevalier d'Eon from 1771 onward, representing him straightforwardly as a man without any reference to the lively debate over his sex that had taken place during the earlier part of the year .’)