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Thomas Frye

1710 Dublin – 1762 London

The Anglo-Irish painter and mezzotint engraver Thomas Frye made his debut as a portrait painter in London in the early 1730s. In 1744, after hearing of the discovery of valuable kaolin deposits in America, Frye applied for a patent to manufacture porcelain. By about 1747 he was one of the co-founders of the Bow Manufactory at Stratford-le-Bow in the county of Essex, which was one of the earliest and most important porcelain manufactories in England. Under Frye’s management it developed in the 1750s into a flourishing enterprise turning out high-quality products, with the artist sometimes employing more than three hundred workers. Frye designed porcelain himself and probably also worked as a decorative painter. In 1759, ill health forced him to give up his activity in the manufactory. Frye subsequently went back to painting portraits, beginning with the publication of mezzotints after his own inventions.