Feke emerged during the 1740s as the most gifted native-born artist working in the Northeast. The subject of this portrait, the Irish-born Tench Francis (1690?–1758), received legal training in England and emigrated to America in about 1720. He became the attorney general of Pennsylvania in 1741 and commissioned this portrait five years later. The picture is important as one of the few signed and dated works proving that Feke was active in Philadelphia in 1746. Thinly painted in elegant Rococo pastel colors but reflecting Quaker values in the sitter’s modest attire, the work represents Francis at the height of his career, as a pillar of society.
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Signature: [at lower right]: R. Feke / Pinx 1746
the sitter, until 1748; his son, Tench Francis; his grandson, J. Francis Fisher, Philadelphia, by 1859; his son, Dr. Henry M. Fisher, Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, until 1934; with Macbeth Gallery, New York, 1934