Thomas Frye was born in Dublin and went to England in the 1730’s. He worked as a portrait artist, mezzotint engraver, and, for fifteen years, as the manager of a porcelaine factory in the north of England. It was after retiring from this job that he commenced a project involving twelve larger-than-life heads inspired by engravings after the recently-deceased Venetian artist G.B. Piazzetta. He exhibited the portraits (which included surreptitiously-drawn likenesses of George III and Queen Charlotte) first as chalk drawings to attract subscriptions for the mezzotints. These were published by Joseph Boydell, who advertised them as having “as much Force as a fine Painting”.