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This portrait is distinguished by the artist’s fascination with the textures and play of light on the sitter’s clothing. Its style shows how strongly Frye was influenced by Hogarth. Henry Crispe was Registrar of Certificates and Examiner of Debentures at the Custom House, London. He died the year after this portrait was painted. His epitaph records that ‘in him was shewn that polite literature and ev’n a poetical genius best form the man of business’, skills which are indicated in this portrait by the presence of the quill and the writing materials on the table.

August 2004