The work of John Kay is truly original. If you look closely at his miniature portrait work, it will bring a smile to your face. In the example below the attention to detail is second to none and even the horse appears to be smiling! Also the additional fine hand colour makes for a very special collectors print. If you don't know his work I recommend you investigate.
John Kay (1742 - 1826) was born near Dalkeith, Midlothian in 1742. The son of a mason, he was apprenticed at the age of thirteen to George Heriot, a barber in Dalkeith. Six years later he moved to Edinburgh where he continued to work as a journeyman barber. In 1771 he was enrolled a member of the Society of Surgeon-Barbers and set up in business on his own account. In his spare time he began to produce highly original portrait sketches and caricatures of Edinburgh characters, despite having no formal training in drawing.
He attracted the patronage of William Nisbet of Dirleton, who settled an annuity upon him, and in 1785 was finally able to give up his trade for art. Kay opened a shop in Parliament Close where he sold his etchings and from 1784 - 1822 he is calculated to have etched nearly nine hundred plates portraying many of the most notable Scotsmen of the day. Within twelve years of his death his caricatures were published in a two-volume book, 'A series of original portraits and caricature etchings by the late John Kay', with a second edition following four years later.
Caricature of General Sir Ralph Abercromby K.B. by John Kay 1801 with gold mount & frame. General Sir Ralph Abercromby K.B Viewing the Army encamped on the plains of Egypt. c1801.
Kay's portraits were collected by Hugh Paton and published under the title A series of original portraits and caricature etchings by the late John Kay, with biographical sketches and illustrative anecdotes (Edinburgh, 2 vols. 4to, 1838; 8vo ed., 4 vols., 1842; new 4to ed., with additional plates, 2 vols., 1877), forming a unique record of the social life and popular habits of Edinburgh at its most interesting epoch.
Take a look at some more delightful John Kay caricatures HERE Every one is its own little comedy!