Sir Joshua Reynolds

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Reynolds, Sir Joshua,

1723–92, English portrait painter, b. Devonshire. Long considered historically the most important of England's painters, by his learned example he raised the artist to a position of respect in England. Reynolds studied painting in London and in 1742 began as a portraitist in Devon. He was able to study the Italian masters when Commodore Keppel, a friend, took him to Italy in 1749. After three years of study and travel, Reynolds returned and took London by storm. Intensely ambitious, Reynolds used his wit and charm as well as his artistic talents to advance himself, and within a year he was besieged with portrait commissions and was employing assistants. He maintained a gallery not only of his own works but also those of old masters whose paintings he bought and sold. He entertained the world of wealth and fashion and the great literary figures of the day. When the Royal Academy was founded in 1768, Reynolds was inevitably elected president and was knighted the following year. His annual discourses before the Academy have literary distinction and are a significant exposition of academic style, propounding eclectic generalization over direct observation, and allusion to the classical past over the present. The Grand Style, thus proclaimed, was of enormous influence in the development of English portraiture. At 59, Reynolds had a paralytic stroke but recovered sufficiently to continue his work for several years. Before he lost his sight (1789), his style had become warmer and less formal, having been influenced by Rubens. Reynolds painted more than 2,000 portraits and historical paintings, depicting almost every notable person of his time. He often used experimental painting methods, which resulted in works now poorly preserved. His portraits of Commodore Keppel, Dr. Johnson, Lady Caroline Howard, Mrs. Siddons, Sterne, Goldsmith, Garrick, Gibbon, and Edmund Burke are among the many fine examples that are of historical interest. Reynolds's works are in nearly every major museum in the western world. He is best represented in the National Gallery, London, but examples of his work are to be seen in the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Cleveland Museum of Art; and the Art Institute of Chicago.


See his letters (ed. by F. W. Hilles, 1929) and his Discourses on Art (ed. by R. Wark, 1959, repr. 1965); studies by E. Waterhouse (1941 and 1973).

References in periodicals archive ?
He told the court: "He has nothing against Sir Joshua Reynolds or Samuel Johnson, the subject of the painting.
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The most influential voice in British art throughout the latter eighteenth century had been that of Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), longtime president of the Royal Academy and author (with assistance from others) of annual "discourses" that were later collected and frequently reprinted.
In 1764 he became one of the nine founding members of the famous Club, a select body, including Sir Joshua Reynolds, Samuel Johnson, and Edmund Burke, that met weekly for supper and conversation.
IN his essay on beauty in Idler, lxmii (10 November 1759), Sir Joshua Reynolds presents the following arguments:
He was associated with Samuel Johnson and Sir Joshua Reynolds in 1764 in forming the Literary Club.
I see that the painter Sir Joshua Reynolds was a member - he actually painted Mr Fenton as a young man.
One of her first duties has been to accept a Heritage Lottery Fund grant for pounds 675,000 for the Trust to acquire the portrait of Dr John Ash by Sir Joshua Reynolds, with an ongoing campaign to raise the remaining pounds 50,000 needed to buy the painting.
Onthisday 1723: Sir Joshua Reynolds, English portrait painter who was elected first President of the Royal Academy in 1768, was born.
Now, more than 230 years since her likeness was captured on canvas by celebrated artist Sir Joshua Reynolds, she is again set to take centre stage - at a country house auction in Northumberland.
Author Miles Wynn Cato focuses on Parry's son, portrait painter William Parry, a pupil of Sir Joshua Reynolds.