1 Early life 2 Career
2.1 The Club
2.2 Royal Academy
2.3 Lord Keppel
Principal Painter in Ordinary
3 Later life 4 Personal characteristics 5 Gallery 6 See also 7 Notes 8 References 9 Further reading 10 External links
10.1 Paintings 10.2 Writings
Joshua Reynolds, Self-portrait, aged about 24
Old Grammar School, Plympton, founded 1658, built 1664, attended by
Reynolds was born in Plympton, Devon, on 16 July 1723 the third son
of the Rev. Samuel Reynolds, master of the
Self-portrait, aged 17, entitled, Uffizi Self-portrait
Having shown an early interest in art, Reynolds was apprenticed in
1740 to the fashionable
Alongside ambitious full-length portraits, Reynolds painted large numbers of smaller works. In the late 1750s, at the height of the social season, he received five or six sitters a day, each for an hour. By 1761 Reynolds could command a fee of 80 guineas for a full-length portrait; in 1764 he was paid 100 guineas for a portrait of Lord Burghersh. The clothing of Reynolds' sitters was usually painted either by one of his pupils, his studio assistant Giuseppe Marchi, or the specialist drapery painter Peter Toms. James Northcote, his pupil, wrote of this arrangement that "the imitation of particular stuffs is not the work of genius, but is to be acquired easily by practice, and this was what his pupils could do by care and time more than he himself chose to bestow; but his own slight and masterly work was still the best." Lay figures were used to model the clothes. Reynolds often adapted the poses of his subjects from the works of earlier artists, a practice mocked by Nathaniel Hone in a painting called The Conjuror submitted to the Royal Academy exhibition of 1775, and now in the collection of the National Gallery of Ireland. It shows a figure representing, though not resembling, Reynolds, seated in front of a cascade of prints from which Reynolds had borrowed with varying degrees of subtlety. Although not principally known for his landscapes, Reynolds did paint in this genre. He had an excellent vantage from his house, Wick House, on Richmond Hill, and painted the view in about 1780.
The Age of Innocence c. 1788, Reynolds emphasized the natural grace of children in his paintings
Reynolds also was recognized for his portraits of children. He emphasized the innocence and natural grace of children when depicting them. His 1788 portrait, Age of Innocence, is his best known character study of a child. The subject of the painting is not known, although conjecture includes Theophila Gwatkin, his great niece, and Lady Anne Spencer, the youngest daughter of the fourth Duke of Marlborough. The Club Reynolds worked long hours in his studio, rarely taking a holiday. He was gregarious and keenly intellectual, with many friends from London's intelligentsia, numbered amongst whom were Dr Samuel Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith, Edmund Burke, Giuseppe Baretti, Henry Thrale, David Garrick, and artist Angelica Kauffman. Johnson said in 1778: "Reynolds is too much under [Charles James] Fox and Burke at present. He is under the Fox star and the Irish constellation [meaning Burke]. He is always under some planet". Because of his popularity as a portrait painter, Reynolds enjoyed constant interaction with the wealthy and famous men and women of the day, and it was he who brought together the figures of "The" Club. It was founded in 1764 and met in a suite of rooms on the first floor of the Turks Head at 9 Gerrard Street, now marked by a plaque. Original members included Burke, Bennet Langton, Topham Beauclerk, Goldsmith, Anthony Chamier, Thomas Hawkins, and Nugent, to be joined by Garrick, Boswell, and Sheridan. In ten years the membership had risen to 35. The Club met every Monday evening for supper and conversation and continued into the early hours of Tuesday morning. In later years, it met fortnightly during Parliamentary sessions. When in 1783 the landlord of the Turks Head died and the property was sold, The Club moved to Sackville Street. Royal Academy
The hall at Loton Park, c. 1870. Showing, in situ, on the far wall Reynolds' Frances Anne Crewe (miss Greville), as St. Genevieve, c. 1773
Reynolds was one of the earliest members of the Royal Society of Arts,
helped found the Society of Artists of Great Britain, and in 1768
became the first president of the Royal Academy of Arts, a position he
was to hold until his death. In 1769, he was knighted by George III,
only the second artist to be so honored. His Discourses, a series
of lectures delivered at the Academy between 1769 and 1790, are
remembered for their sensitivity and perception. In one lectures he
expressed the opinion that "invention, strictly speaking, is little
more than a new combination of those images which have been previously
gathered and deposited in the memory." William Jackson in his
contemporary essays said of Reynolds ' there is much ingenuity and
originality in all his academic discourses, replete with classical
knowledge of his art, acute remarks on the works of others, and
general taste and discernment'.
Reynolds and the Royal Academy received a mixed reception. Critics
Lord Keppel (1779)
In the Battle of Ushant against the French in 1778, Lord Keppel
commanded the Channel Fleet and the outcome resulted in no clear
winner; Keppel ordered the attack be renewed and was obeyed except by
Sir Hugh Palliser, who commanded the rear, and the French escaped
bombardment. A dispute between Keppel and Palliser arose and Palliser
brought charges of misconduct and neglect of duty against Keppel and
the Admiralty decided to court-martial him. On 11 February 1779 Keppel
was acquitted of all charges and became a national hero. One of
Keppel's lawyers commissioned Sir
Lord Heathfield (1787)
In 1787 Reynolds painted the portrait of Lord Heathfield, who became a
national hero for the successful defence of
to the splendor of the foliage, to the neglect of the stirring the earth about the roots. They cultivated only those arts which could add splendor to the nation, to the neglect of those which supported it – They neglected Trade & substantial Manufacture...but does it follow that a total revolution is necessary that because we have given ourselves up too much to the ornaments of life, we will now have none at all.
When attending a dinner at Holland House, Fox's niece Caroline was sat
next to Reynolds and "burst out into glorification of the Revolution
– and was grievously chilled and checked by her neighbour's cautious
and unsympathetic tone".
On 4 June 1791 at a dinner at the Freemasons' Tavern to mark the
king's birthday, Reynolds drank to the toasts "GOD save the KING!" and
"May our glorious Constitution under which the arts flourish, be
immortal!", in what was reported by the Public Advertiser as "a
fervour truly patriotick". Reynolds "filled the chair with a most
convivial glee". He returned to town from Burke's house in
"I had long languished to see that kindly zealous friend, but his ill health had intimidated me from making the attempt": "He had a bandage over one eye, and the other shaded with a green half-bonnet. He seemed serious even to sadness, though extremely kind. 'I am very glad,' he said, in a meek voice and dejected accent, 'to see you again, and I wish I could see you better! but I have only one eye now, and hardly that.' I was really quite touched".
On 5 November Reynolds, fearing he might not have an opportunity to
write a will, wrote a memorandum intended to be his last will and
testament, with Edmund Burke, Edmond Malone, and
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Enamel Miniature Portrait of Sir
In appearance Reynolds was not striking. Slight, he was about 5'6"
with dark brown curls, a florid complexion and features that James
Boswell thought were "rather too largely and strongly limned." He had
a broad face and a cleft chin, and the bridge of his nose was slightly
dented; his skin was scarred by smallpox and his upper lip disfigured
as a result of falling from a horse as a young man. Edmond Malone
asserted that "his appearance at first sight impressed the spectator
with the idea of a well-born and well-bred English gentleman."
In his mature years he suffered from deafness, as recorded by Fanny
Burney, although this did not impede his lively social life (he used
an ear trumpet).
Renowned for his placidity, Reynolds often claimed that he "hated
nobody". Never quite losing his Devonshire accent, he was not only an
amiable and original conversationalist, but a friendly and generous
host, so that
Thou say'st not only skill is gained But genius too may be attained By studious imitation; Thy temper mild, thy genius fine I'll copy till I make them mine By constant application.
Some, such as Hester Lynch Piozzi, construed Reynolds' equable calm as
cool and unfeeling.
It is to this lukewarm temperament that Frederick W. Hilles, Bodman
Professor of English Literature at Yale attributes Reynolds' never
having married. In the editorial notes of his compendium Portraits by
Sir Joshua Reynolds, Hilles theorizes that "as a corollary one might
say that he [Reynolds] was somewhat lacking in a capacity for love",
and cites Boswell's notary papers: "He said the reason he would never
marry was that every woman whom he liked had grown indifferent to him,
and he had been glad he did not marry her." Reynolds' own sister,
Frances, who lived with him as housekeeper, took her own negative
opinion further still, thinking him "a gloomy tyrant". The presence of
family compensated Reynolds for the absence of a wife; he wrote on one
occasion to his friend Bennet Langton, that both his sister and niece
were away from home "so that I am quite a bachelor".
Ian McIntyre discusses the possibility of Reynolds having
enjoyed sexual rendezvous with certain clients, such as Nelly O'Brien
(or "My Lady O'Brien", as he playfully dubbed her) and Kitty Fisher,
who visited his house for more sittings than were strictly necessary.
Sarah Campbell (1777)
Sarah Siddons as the Tragic Muse, painting at The Huntington, San Marino, California
Commodore the Honourable August Keppel, (Reynolds's first portrait of Keppel), 1749
Captain the Honourable
Portrait of Miss Mary Pelham, ca. 1757, Dallas Museum of Art
Charles Lennox, 3rd Duke of Richmond, 1758
George Clive and his family with an Indian maid, 1765
Elizabeth, Lady Amherst, 1767
Colonel Acland and Lord Sydney, The Archers, 1769
Jane, Countess of Harrington, 1778
Lady Caroline Howard, 1778
The Family of the Duke of Marlborough, 1778
Lady Elizabeth Delmé and Her Children, 1779
Captain George K. H. Coussmaker, 1782
Admiral Hood, 1783
The Infant Samuel, 1776
The Infant Hercules, c. 1785–1789, Princeton University Art Museum
Anne Seymour Damer
Mrs Abington as The Comic Muse, 1764–1768 at Waddesdon Manor
Richard Crofts of West Harling, Norfolk
English art Grand manner Mary Nesbitt, eighteenth-century courtesan who began her career as Reynolds' model. Martin Postle, an expert on Joshua Reynolds
^ New York Times article about Reynolds exhibit
^ a b c d e Martin Postle, ‘Reynolds, Sir Joshua (1723–1792)’,
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press,
2004; online edn, Oct 2009. Retrieved 24 Sep 2010.
^ a b c d e f Penny, Nicholas (1986). "The Ambitious Man". Reynolds
(Exhibition catalogue). Royal Academy of Arts. pp. 17–18.
^ Lee, Elizabeth, Biography of Mary Palmer, Dictionary of National
Biography, 1885–1900, Vol.43
^ Leslie and Taylor 1865, volume 1, pp. 35–7
^ Leslie and Taylor 1865, volume 1, p.39
^ Leslie and Taylor 1865, volume 1, pp. 62–5
^ Leslie and Taylor 1865, volume 1, p.86
^ a b "Giuseppe Marchi". Reynolds (Exhibition catalogue). Royal
Academy of Arts. 1986. p. 181.
^ a b Leslie and Taylor 1865, volume 1, p.89
^ Leslie and Taylor 1865, volume 1, p.102. His pocket book records him
as painting 150 sitters in 1758 alone.
^ a b c Penny, Nicholas (1986). "The Ambitious Man". Reynolds
(Exhibition catalogue). Royal Academy of Arts. p. 22.
^ Penny, Nicholas (1986). "The Ambitious Man". Reynolds (Exhibition
catalogue). Royal Academy of Arts. p. 24.
^ Penny, Nicholas (1986). "The Ambitious Man". Reynolds (Exhibition
catalogue). Royal Academy of Arts. pp. 17–8.
James Boswell, Life of Johnson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008). Charles Robert Leslie and Tom Taylor, Life and Times of Sir Joshua Reynolds (London: John Murray, 1865, 2 volumes). Ian McIntyre, Joshua Reynolds. The Life and Times of the First President of the Royal Academy (London: Allen Lane, 2003). Martin Postle, ‘Reynolds, Sir Joshua (1723–1792)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, October 2009. Retrieved 24 September 2010.
J. Blanc, Les Écrits de Sir
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"Reynolds, Joshua". Dictionary of National Biography. London:
Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
614 Painting(s) by or after
Artcyclopedia: Sir Joshua Reynolds
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Principal Painter in Ordinary
New title President of the Royal Academy 1768–1792 Succeeded by Benjamin West
WorldCat Identities VIAF: 27081216 LCCN: n84168483 ISNI: 0000 0001 0881 5237 GND: 118744771 SELIBR: 228881 SUDOC: 028497066 BNF: cb12032127v (data) ULAN: 500004539 NLA: 35449606 KulturNav: 18425ef7-d37d-47ab-afc7-29691f0a2ac5 RKD: 66