Born in 1726 in London, Frances Cotes Ra is best known for outstanding work as a pastellist. He trained with George Knapton, a portrait painter, before setting up his own studio. Heavily influenced by Jean Etienne Liotard and Rosalba Carriera, he preferred to work with pastels and pencils. During the 1760s, he stated completing oil paintings and adopted a style similar to Sir Joshua Reynolds. Reynolds also became one of his biggest competitors in the art world. In 1768, he became a founding member of the Royal Academy.
Cotes was best known for his use of informal naturalism, bold lines, inventive compositions, vigorous brushwork, and dramatic use of color. In addition, he had a talent for wet in wet application of paint to accurately portray reflections in his portraits. He was a successful portrait painter and had a very distinguished clientele base. His best known works include Portrait of Maria Walpole, Countess Waldegrave, Later H.R.H. Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh (1765), Portrait of a Lady (1768), and A Portrait of a Lady and a Gentleman at Chess (1769), which sold for more than $700,000. Unfortunately, Cotes passed away at the height of his career in 1770. He was only 44 years old.