Nicholas Blakey was born in Ireland, probably shortly after 1711, the son of William Blakey, a clockmaker who was invited to help set up a factory in Versailles.
Blakey is known to have worked in France from c. 1739, when he painted a portrait of the Jacobite James Keith and a portrait of Louis XV based on a bust. From 1747 he studied in Paris, developing a late rococo style.
Over the next twenty years he provided illustrations for books published in London, sometimes engraving them himself. His earliest illustrations were for Bernard Siegfried Albinus's Tables of the Skeleton and Muscles of the Human Body (1749). Working with painter Francis Hayman, he illustrated an edition of The Works of Alexander Pope (1751), Jonas Hanway's An Historical Account of the British Trade over the Caspian Sea (1753), and J. H. Merchant's The Revolution in Persia (1953), and a series of prints of scenes from British history, published by subscription: "The Landing of Julius Caesar," engraved by S. F. Ravenet, "Vortigern and Rowena," engraved by G. Scotin, and "Alfred receiving the news of victory over the Danes," engraved by Vivares. He drew an illustration "Nymphs Dancing", engraved by Ingram, as the frontispiece for a set of songs composed by Oswald. He died in Paris on 20 November 1758.
- ↑ According to most sources. He may have been born in London.
- Walter G. Strickland, A Dictionary of Irish Artists, 1913
- Neil Jeffares, "Nicholas Blakey", Dictionary of Pastellists Before 1800, Online Edition, updated 10 March 2012
- Lucy Peltz, "Blakey, Nicholas (d. 1758)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 26 Jan 2013