May_ 9 (1828) "...I sat to Northcote, who is to introduce himself in the same piece in the act of painting me, like some pictures of the Venetian school. The artist is an old man, low in stature, and bent with years--fourscore at least. But the eye is quick and the countenance noble. A pleasant companion, familiar with recollections of Sir Joshua, Samuel Johnson, Burke, Goldsmith, etc. His account of the last confirms all that we have heard of his oddities..."
From Scott's Journal
James Northcote was an Englishman, whose first career was as a watchmaker, under his father. He enjoyed drawing, and began painting portraits on his own. The year Scott was born, 1771, Northcote moved with his brother to London, escaping from his father's watchmaking business.
Northcote left Devon with an introduction to Sir Joshua Reynolds. Both men derived from near Plymouth, in Devon, and both had attended the Plympton Grammar School. Reynolds took Northcote in as a student, and a boarder.
Northcote produced prolificly, creating perhaps more than 1,000 works. He also wrote, authoring the first full biography of Sir Joshua Reynolds.