Joshua Reynolds
Overview
Sir Joshua Reynolds RA
Royal Academy
The Royal Academy of Arts is an art institution based in Burlington House on Piccadilly, London. The Royal Academy of Arts has a unique position in being an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects whose purpose is to promote the creation, enjoyment and...

 FRS
Royal Society
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

 FRSA
Royal Society of Arts
The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce is a British multi-disciplinary institution, based in London. The name Royal Society of Arts is frequently used for brevity...

 (16 July 1723 – 23 February 1792) was an influential 18th-century English painter
Painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

, specialising in portrait
Portrait
thumb|250px|right|Portrait of [[Thomas Jefferson]] by [[Rembrandt Peale]], 1805. [[New-York Historical Society]].A portrait is a painting, photograph, sculpture, or other artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant. The intent is to display the likeness,...

s and promoting the "Grand Style"
Grand manner
Grand Manner refers to an idealized aesthetic style derived from classical art, and the modern "classic art" of the High Renaissance. In the eighteenth century, British artists and connoisseurs used the term to describe paintings that incorporated visual metaphors in order to suggest noble qualities...

 in painting which depended on idealization of the imperfect. He was one of the founders and first President of the Royal Academy
Royal Academy
The Royal Academy of Arts is an art institution based in Burlington House on Piccadilly, London. The Royal Academy of Arts has a unique position in being an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects whose purpose is to promote the creation, enjoyment and...

. King George III
George III of the United Kingdom
George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of these two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death...

 appreciated his merits and knighted him in 1769.
Reynolds was born in Plympton
Plympton
Plympton, or Plympton Maurice or Plympton St Maurice or Plympton St Mary or Plympton Erle, in south-western Devon, England is an ancient stannary town: an important trading centre in the past for locally mined tin, and a former seaport...

, Devon
Devon
Devon is a large county in southwestern England. The county is sometimes referred to as Devonshire, although the term is rarely used inside the county itself as the county has never been officially "shired", it often indicates a traditional or historical context.The county shares borders with...

, on 16 July 1723. As one of ten (maybe eleven) children and the son of the village school-master, Reynolds was restricted to a formal education provided by his father.
Encyclopedia
Sir Joshua Reynolds RA
Royal Academy
The Royal Academy of Arts is an art institution based in Burlington House on Piccadilly, London. The Royal Academy of Arts has a unique position in being an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects whose purpose is to promote the creation, enjoyment and...

 FRS
Royal Society
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

 FRSA
Royal Society of Arts
The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce is a British multi-disciplinary institution, based in London. The name Royal Society of Arts is frequently used for brevity...

 (16 July 1723 – 23 February 1792) was an influential 18th-century English painter
Painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

, specialising in portrait
Portrait
thumb|250px|right|Portrait of [[Thomas Jefferson]] by [[Rembrandt Peale]], 1805. [[New-York Historical Society]].A portrait is a painting, photograph, sculpture, or other artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant. The intent is to display the likeness,...

s and promoting the "Grand Style"
Grand manner
Grand Manner refers to an idealized aesthetic style derived from classical art, and the modern "classic art" of the High Renaissance. In the eighteenth century, British artists and connoisseurs used the term to describe paintings that incorporated visual metaphors in order to suggest noble qualities...

 in painting which depended on idealization of the imperfect. He was one of the founders and first President of the Royal Academy
Royal Academy
The Royal Academy of Arts is an art institution based in Burlington House on Piccadilly, London. The Royal Academy of Arts has a unique position in being an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects whose purpose is to promote the creation, enjoyment and...

. King George III
George III of the United Kingdom
George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of these two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death...

 appreciated his merits and knighted him in 1769.

Early life

Reynolds was born in Plympton
Plympton
Plympton, or Plympton Maurice or Plympton St Maurice or Plympton St Mary or Plympton Erle, in south-western Devon, England is an ancient stannary town: an important trading centre in the past for locally mined tin, and a former seaport...

, Devon
Devon
Devon is a large county in southwestern England. The county is sometimes referred to as Devonshire, although the term is rarely used inside the county itself as the county has never been officially "shired", it often indicates a traditional or historical context.The county shares borders with...

, on 16 July 1723. As one of ten (maybe eleven) children and the son of the village school-master, Reynolds was restricted to a formal education provided by his father. He exhibited a natural curiosity and, as a boy, came under the influence of Zachariah Mudge, whose Platonistic philosophy stayed with him all his life. Reynolds made extracts into his commonplace book from Theophrastus
Theophrastus
Theophrastus , a Greek native of Eresos in Lesbos, was the successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school. He came to Athens at a young age, and initially studied in Plato's school. After Plato's death he attached himself to Aristotle. Aristotle bequeathed to Theophrastus his writings, and...

, Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

, Seneca
Seneca the Younger
Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and in one work humorist, of the Silver Age of Latin literature. He was tutor and later advisor to emperor Nero...

, Marcus Antonius, Ovid
Ovid
Publius Ovidius Naso , known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who is best known as the author of the three major collections of erotic poetry: Heroides, Amores, and Ars Amatoria...

, William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

, John Milton
John Milton
John Milton was an English poet, polemicist, a scholarly man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell...

, Alexander Pope
Alexander Pope
Alexander Pope was an 18th-century English poet, best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer. He is the third-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, after Shakespeare and Tennyson...

, John Dryden
John Dryden
John Dryden was an influential English poet, literary critic, translator, and playwright who dominated the literary life of Restoration England to such a point that the period came to be known in literary circles as the Age of Dryden.Walter Scott called him "Glorious John." He was made Poet...

, Joseph Addison
Joseph Addison
Joseph Addison was an English essayist, poet, playwright and politician. He was a man of letters, eldest son of Lancelot Addison...

, Richard Steele
Richard Steele
Sir Richard Steele was an Irish writer and politician, remembered as co-founder, with his friend Joseph Addison, of the magazine The Spectator....

, Aphra Behn
Aphra Behn
Aphra Behn was a prolific dramatist of the English Restoration and was one of the first English professional female writers. Her writing contributed to the amatory fiction genre of British literature.-Early life:...

 and passages on art theory by Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance...

, Charles Alphonse Du Fresnoy
Charles Alphonse du Fresnoy
Charles Alphonse du Fresnoy , French painter and writer on his art, was born in Paris, son of an apothecary.He was destined for the medical profession, and well educated in Latin and Greek; but, having a natural propensity for the fine arts, he would not apply to his intended vocation, and was...

, and André Félibien
André Félibien
André Félibien , sieur des Avaux et de Javercy, was a French chronicler of the arts and official court historian to Louis XIV of France.-Biography:...

. The work that came to have the most influential impact on Reynolds was Jonathan Richardson's An Essay on the Theory of Painting (1715). Reynolds' annotated copy was lost for nearly two hundred years when it appeared in a Cambridge bookshop, inscribed with the signature ‘J. Reynolds Pictor’.

Career

Showing an early interest in art, Reynolds was apprenticed in 1740 to the fashionable portrait painter Thomas Hudson
Thomas Hudson (painter)
Thomas Hudson was an English portrait painter in the 18th century. He was born in 1701 in the West Country of the United Kingdom. His exact birthplace is unknown...

, with whom he remained until 1743. In 1749, Reynolds became friend with Augustus Keppel
Augustus Keppel, 1st Viscount Keppel
Admiral Augustus Keppel, 1st Viscount Keppel PC was an officer of the Royal Navy during the Seven Years' War and the War of American Independence...

, a naval officer, and they both sailed on the Centurion
HMS Centurion (1732)
HMS Centurion was a 60-gun fourth rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, built at Portsmouth Dockyard and launched on 6 January 1732. At the time of Centurion's construction, the 1719 Establishment dictated the dimensions of almost every ship being built...

to the Mediterranean. Whilst on board, Reynolds wrote later, "I had the use of his cabin and his study of books, as if they had been my own". From 1749 to 1752, he spent over two years in Italy, where he studied the Old Masters and acquired a taste for the "Grand Style". Unfortunately, whilst in Rome, Reynolds suffered a severe cold which left him partially deaf, and, as a result, he began to carry a small ear trumpet
Ear trumpet
Ear trumpets are tubular or funnel-shaped devices which collect sound waves and lead them into the ear. This results in a strengthening of the sound energy impact to the eardrum and thus a better hearing for a reduced or decreased hearing individual....

 with which he is often pictured. From 1753 until the end of his life, he lived in London, his talents gaining recognition soon after his arrival in France.

Reynolds worked long hours in his studio, rarely taking a holiday. He was both gregarious and keenly intellectual, with a great number of friends from London's intelligentsia, numbered amongst whom were Dr Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson , often referred to as Dr. Johnson, was an English author who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer...

, Oliver Goldsmith
Oliver Goldsmith
Oliver Goldsmith was an Irish writer, poet and physician known for his novel The Vicar of Wakefield , his pastoral poem The Deserted Village , and his plays The Good-Natur'd Man and She Stoops to Conquer...

, Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke PC was an Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist and philosopher who, after moving to England, served for many years in the House of Commons of Great Britain as a member of the Whig party....

, Giuseppe Baretti, Henry Thrale
Henry Thrale
Henry Thrale was an 18th century English Member of Parliament and a close friend of Samuel Johnson. Like his father, he was the proprietor of the large London brewery, H. Thrale & Co....

, David Garrick
David Garrick
David Garrick was an English actor, playwright, theatre manager and producer who influenced nearly all aspects of theatrical practice throughout the 18th century and was a pupil and friend of Dr Samuel Johnson...

 and fellow artist Angelica Kauffmann
Angelica Kauffmann
Maria Anna Angelika/Angelica Katharina Kauffman was a Swiss-Austrian Neoclassical painter. Kauffman is the preferred spelling of her name; it is the form she herself used most in signing her correspondence, documents and paintings.- Early years :She was born at Chur in Graubünden, Switzerland,...

. Johnson said in 1778: "Reynolds is too much under 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 first brought together the famous figures of "The" Club
The Club (dining club)
The Club was a London dining club founded in February 1764 by the artist Joshua Reynolds and essayist Samuel Johnson.-Description:Initially, the club would meet one evening per week at seven, at the Turk's Head Inn in Gerrard Street, Soho. Later, meetings were reduced to once per fortnight whilst...

. By 1761 Reynolds could command a fee of 80 Guineas for a full-length portrait (Mr Fane); in 1764 he was paid 100 Guineas for a portrait of Lord Burghersh
John Fane, 9th Earl of Westmorland
John Fane, 9th Earl of Westmorland was an English earl. He succeeded his father the 8th Earl as Earl and as MP for Lyme Regis from 1762 .-Lord Burghersh:...

.

With his rival Thomas Gainsborough
Thomas Gainsborough
Thomas Gainsborough was an English portrait and landscape painter.-Suffolk:Thomas Gainsborough was born in Sudbury, Suffolk. He was the youngest son of John Gainsborough, a weaver and maker of woolen goods. At the age of thirteen he impressed his father with his penciling skills so that he let...

, Reynolds was the dominant English portraitist of 'the Age of Johnson'. It is said that in his long life he painted as many as three thousand portraits. Although not principally known for his landscapes, Reynolds did paint in this genre. He had an excellent vantage from his house on Richmond Hill
The Wick House
The Wick House is a house in Richmond, Greater London, located near the corner of Nightingale Lane and Richmond Hill in Surrey. The painter Sir Joshua Reynolds commissioned the house in 1772.-History:...

, and painted the view in about 1780.

Lord Keppel

In the Battle of Ushant
Battle of Ushant (1778)
The Battle of Ushant took place on 27 July 1778, during the American War of Independence, fought between French and British fleets 100 miles west of Ushant, a French island at the mouth of the English Channel off the north-westernmost point of France...

 with the French in 1778, Lord Keppel
Augustus Keppel, 1st Viscount Keppel
Admiral Augustus Keppel, 1st Viscount Keppel PC was an officer of the Royal Navy during the Seven Years' War and the War of American Independence...

 commanded the Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 Fleet and the outcome resulted in no clear winner; Keppel ordered to renew the attack and this was obeyed except by Sir Hugh Palliser
Hugh Palliser
Admiral Sir Hugh Palliser, 1st Baronet was an officer of the British Royal Navy during the Seven Years' War and the American Revolutionary War...

, 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 Nathaniel Dance
Nathaniel Dance
Sir Nathaniel Dance was an officer of the Honourable East India Company who had a long and varied career on merchant vessels, making numerous voyages to India and back with the fleets of East Indiamen...

 to paint a portrait of Keppel but Keppel redirected it to Reynolds. Reynolds alluded to Keppel's trial in the painting by having him have his hand on his sword, reflecting the presiding officer's words at the court-martial: "In delivering to you your sword, I am to congratulate you on its being restored to you with so much honour".

Principal Painter in Ordinary to the King

On 10 August 1784 Allan Ramsay died and the office of Principal Painter in Ordinary
Principal Painter in Ordinary
The title of Principal Painter in Ordinary to the King or Queen of England or, later, Great Britain, was awarded to a number of artists, nearly all mainly portraitists. It was different to the role of Serjeant Painter, and similar to the earlier role of "King's Painter"...

 to the King therefore became vacant. Gainsborough felt that he had a good chance of securing it but Reynolds felt that he deserved it and threatened to resign the presidency of the Royal Academy if he did not receive it. Reynolds noted in his pocket book: "Sept. 1, 2½, to attend at the Lord Chancellor's Office to be sworn in painter to the King". However this did not make Reynolds happy, as he wrote to Boswell: "If I had known what a shabby miserable place it is, I would not have asked for it; besides as things have turned out I think a certain person is not worth speaking to, nor speaking of", presumably meaning the King. Reynolds wrote to Jonathan Shipley
Jonathan Shipley
Jonathan Shipley was the son of a London stationer; his mother's family were owners of Twyford House, a large manor in Winchester, England. He was ordained a minister in the Church of England and became both Bishop of Llandaff and Bishop of St Asaph.Jonathan grew up at Walbrook in the City of...

, Bishop of St Asaph
Bishop of St Asaph
The Bishop of St Asaph heads the Church in Wales diocese of St Asaph.The diocese covers the counties of Conwy and Flintshire, Wrexham county borough, the eastern part of Merioneth in Gwynedd and part of northern Powys. The Episcopal seat is located in the Cathedral Church of St Asaph in the town of...

, a few weeks later: "Your Lordship congratulation on my succeeding Mr. Ramsay I take very kindly but it is a most miserable office, it is reduced from two hundred to thirty-eight pounds per annum, the Kings Rat catcher I believe is a better place, and I am to be paid only a fourth part of what I have from other people, so that the Portraits of their Majesties are not likely to be better done now, than they used to be, I should be ruined if I was to paint them myself".

Lord Heathfield

In 1788 Reynolds painted the portrait of Lord Heathfield
George Augustus Eliott, 1st Baron Heathfield
George Augustus Eliott, 1st Baron Heathfield, KB was a British Army officer who took served in three major wars during the eighteenth century. He rose to distinction during the Seven Years War when he fought in Germany and participated in the British attacks on Belle Île and Cuba...

, who became a national hero for his successful defence of Gibraltar
Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. A peninsula with an area of , it has a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region...

 during its Great Siege
Great Siege of Gibraltar
The Great Siege of Gibraltar was an unsuccessful attempt by Spain and France to capture Gibraltar from the British during the American War of Independence. This was the largest action fought during the war in terms of numbers, particularly the Grand Assault of 18 September 1782...

 from 1779 to 1783 against the combined forces of France and Spain. Heathfield is depicted against a background of clouds and cannon smoke, wearing the uniform of the 15th Light Dragoons and clasping the key of the Rock, its chain wrapped twice around his right hand. John Constable
John Constable
John Constable was an English Romantic painter. Born in Suffolk, he is known principally for his landscape paintings of Dedham Vale, the area surrounding his home—now known as "Constable Country"—which he invested with an intensity of affection...

 said in the 1830s that it was "almost a history of the defence of Gibraltar". Desmond Shawe-Taylor has claimed that the portrait may have a religious meaning, Heathfield holding the key similar to St Peter (Jesus' "rock") possessing the keys to Heaven, Heathfield "the rock upon which Britannia builds her military interests".

Later life

In 1789 he lost the sight of his left eye, which finally forced him into retirement. In 1791 James Boswell
James Boswell
James Boswell, 9th Laird of Auchinleck was a lawyer, diarist, and author born in Edinburgh, Scotland; he is best known for the biography he wrote of one of his contemporaries, the English literary figure Samuel Johnson....

 dedicated his Life of Samuel Johnson to Reynolds. Reynolds agreed with Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France
Reflections on the Revolution in France
Reflections on the Revolution in France , by Edmund Burke, is one of the best-known intellectual attacks against the French Revolution...

and, writing in early 1791, expressed his belief that the ancien régime of France had fallen due to spending too much time tending
"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
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 – 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 Beaconsfield
Beaconsfield
Beaconsfield is a market town and civil parish operating as a town council within the South Bucks district in Buckinghamshire, England. It lies northwest of Charing Cross in Central London, and south-east of the county town of Aylesbury...

 and Edmond Malone
Edmond Malone
Edmond Malone was an Irish Shakespearean scholar and editor of the works of William Shakespeare.Assured of an income after the death of his father in 1774, Malone was able to give up his law practice for at first political and then more congenial literary pursuits. He went to London, where he...

 wrote that "we left his carriage at the Inn at Hayes, and walked five miles on the road, in a warm day, without his complaining of any fatigue".

Later that month Reynolds suffered from a swelling over his left eye and had to be purged by a surgeon. In October he was too ill to take the President's chair and in November Fanny Burney recorded that
"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 ye now, and hardly that.’ I was really quite touched".
On 5 November Reynolds, fearing he may not have an opportunity to write a will, wrote a memorandum intended to be his last will and testament, with Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke PC was an Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist and philosopher who, after moving to England, served for many years in the House of Commons of Great Britain as a member of the Whig party....

, Edmond Malone
Edmond Malone
Edmond Malone was an Irish Shakespearean scholar and editor of the works of William Shakespeare.Assured of an income after the death of his father in 1774, Malone was able to give up his law practice for at first political and then more congenial literary pursuits. He went to London, where he...

 and Philip Metcalfe
Philip Metcalfe
Philip Metcalfe was a distiller in London, UK and member of Parliament from Horsham from 1784. He representedPlympton Erle, Devon from 1790 to 1796 and Malmesbury Wiltshire from 1796....

 named as executors. On 10 November Reynolds wrote to Benjamin West to resign the Presidency, but the General Assembly agreed that Reynolds should be re-elected, with Sir William Chambers
William Chambers (architect)
Sir William Chambers was a Scottish architect, born in Gothenburg, Sweden, where his father was a merchant. Between 1740 and 1749 he was employed by the Swedish East India Company making several voyages to China where he studied Chinese architecture and decoration.Returning to Europe, he studied...

 and West to deputise for him.

The doctors Richard Warren
Richard Warren
Richard Warren was a passenger on the Mayflower in 1620. He settled in Plymouth Colony and was among ten passengers of the Mayflower landing party with Myles Standish at Cape Cod on November 11, 1620...

 and Sir George Baker
George Baker, 1st Baronet
Sir George Baker, Bt, MD, FRS, FSA was an English physician.He was born in Modbury, Devon, the son of George Baker, vicar of Modbury, and his wife Bridget Harris. He was educated at Eton and King's College, Cambridge. In 1749 he went to Leyden University to study physic, becoming MD in 1756...

 believed Reynolds' illness to be psychological and they bled his neck "with a view of drawing the humour from his eyes" but the effect of this in the view of his niece was that it seemed "as if the 'principle of life' were gone" from Reynolds. On New Year's Day 1792 Reynolds became "seized with sickness" and from that point onwards could not keep down food.
Reynolds died on 23 February 1792 in his house in Leicester Fields in London between eight and nine in the evening.

Burke was present on the night Reynolds died, and he was moved within hours to write a eulogy of Reynolds:

Sir Joshua Reynolds was on very many accounts one of the most memorable men of his Time. He was the first Englishman who added the praise of the eligant Arts to the other Glories of his Country. In Taste, in grace, in facility, in happy invention, and in the richness and Harmony of colouring, he was equal to the great masters of the renowned Ages. In Pourtrait he went beyond them; for he communicated to that description of the art, in which English artists are the most engaged a variety, a Fancy, and a dignity derived from the higher Branches, which even those who professed them a superior manner, did not always preserve when they delineated individual nature. His Purtraits remind the Spectator of the Invention of History, and the amenity of Landscape. In painting pourtraits, he appeard not to be raised upon that platform; but to descend to it from an higher sphere. his paintings illustrate his Lessons—and his Lessons seem to be derived from his Paintings.
He possessed the Theory as perfectly as the Practice of his Art. To be such a painter, he was a profound and penetrating Philosopher.
In full affluence of foreign and domestick Fame, admired by the expert in art, and by the learned in Science, courted by the great, caressed by Sovereign powers, and celebrated by distinguished Poets, his Native humility, modesty and Candour never forsook him, even on surprise or provocation, nor was the least degree of arrogance or assumption visible to the most scrutinizing eye, in any part of his Conduct or discourse.
His talents of every kind powerful from Nature, and not meanly cultivated by Letters, his social Virtues in all the relations, and all the habitudes of Life renderd him the center of a very great and unparalleled Variety of agreeable Societies, which will be dissipated by his Death. He had too much merit not to excite some Jealously; too much innocence to provoke any Enmity. The loss of no man of his Time can be felt with more sincere, general, and unmixed Sorrow.
HAIL! AND FAREWELL!


Burke's tribute was well received and one journalist called it "the eulogium of Apelles
Apelles
Apelles of Kos was a renowned painter of ancient Greece. Pliny the Elder, to whom we owe much of our knowledge of this artist rated him superior to preceding and subsequent artists...

 pronounced by Pericles
Pericles
Pericles was a prominent and influential statesman, orator, and general of Athens during the city's Golden Age—specifically, the time between the Persian and Peloponnesian wars...

".

Reynolds was buried at St. Paul's Cathedral.

Legacy

Professionally, Reynolds' career never peaked. He was one of the earliest members of the Royal Society of Arts
Royal Society of Arts
The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce is a British multi-disciplinary institution, based in London. The name Royal Society of Arts is frequently used for brevity...

, helped found the Society of Artists
Society of Artists
The Society of Artists of Great Britain was founded in London in May 1761 by an association of artists in order to provide a venue for the public exhibition of recent work by living artists, such as was having success in the long-established Paris salons....

, and, with Gainsborough, established the Royal Academy of Arts as a spin-off organisation. In 1768 he was made the RA's first President, a position he held until his death. As a lecturer, Reynolds' Discourses on Art (delivered between 1769 and 1790) are remembered for their sensitivity and perception. In one of these lectures he was of 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."

Reynolds and the Royal Academy have historically received a mixed reception. Critics include many of the Pre-Raphaelites, and William Blake
William Blake
William Blake was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age...

, the latter having published his vitriolic Annotations to Sir Joshua Reynolds' Discourses in 1808. To the contrary, both J. M. W. Turner
J. M. W. Turner
Joseph Mallord William Turner RA was an English Romantic landscape painter, watercolourist and printmaker. Turner was considered a controversial figure in his day, but is now regarded as the artist who elevated landscape painting to an eminence rivalling history painting...

 and James Northcote
James Northcote
James Northcote RA , was an English painter.-Biography:He was born at Plymouth, and was apprenticed to his father, a poor watchmaker. In his spare time, he drew and painted. In 1769 he left his father and set up as a portrait painter. Four years later he went to London and was admitted as a pupil...

 were fervent acolytes: Turner requested he be laid to rest at Reynolds' side, and Northcote (who lived for four years as Reynolds' pupil) wrote to his family "I know him thoroughly, and all his faults, I am sure, and yet almost worship him."

Appearance

In appearance Reynolds was not striking. Slight, he was about 5'6" with dark brown curls, a florid complexion and features which James Boswell
James Boswell
James Boswell, 9th Laird of Auchinleck was a lawyer, diarist, and author born in Edinburgh, Scotland; he is best known for the biography he wrote of one of his contemporaries, the English literary figure Samuel Johnson....

 thought were "rather too largely and strongly limned." He had a broad face, 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
Edmond Malone
Edmond Malone was an Irish Shakespearean scholar and editor of the works of William Shakespeare.Assured of an income after the death of his father in 1774, Malone was able to give up his law practice for at first political and then more congenial literary pursuits. He went to London, where he...

 asserted that "his appearance at first sight impressed the spectator with the idea of a well-born and well-bred English gentleman."

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 Fanny Burney
Fanny Burney
Frances Burney , also known as Fanny Burney and, after her marriage, as Madame d’Arblay, was an English novelist, diarist and playwright. She was born in Lynn Regis, now King’s Lynn, England, on 13 June 1752, to musical historian Dr Charles Burney and Mrs Esther Sleepe Burney...

 recorded in her diary that he had "a suavity of disposition that set everybody at their ease in his society", and William Makepeace Thackeray
William Makepeace Thackeray
William Makepeace Thackeray was an English novelist of the 19th century. He was famous for his satirical works, particularly Vanity Fair, a panoramic portrait of English society.-Biography:...

 believed "of all the polite men of that age, Joshua Reynolds was the finest gentleman." Dr. Johnson commented on the inoffensiveness of his nature; Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke PC was an Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist and philosopher who, after moving to England, served for many years in the House of Commons of Great Britain as a member of the Whig party....

 noted his "strong turn for humor". Thomas Bernard, who later became Bishop of Killaloe, wrote in his verses on Reynolds:


"Dear knight of Plympton, teach me how


To suffer, with unruffled brow


And smile serene, like thine,


The jest uncouth or truth severe;


To such I'll turn my deafest ear


And calmly drink my wine.


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."

Admittedly, some did construe Reynolds' equable calm as cool and unfeeling. Hester Lynch Piozzi's pen-portrait reads:



"Of Reynolds what good shall be said?- or what harm?


His temper too frigid; his pencil too warm;


A rage for sublimity ill understood,

To seek still for the great, by forsaking the good..."


It is to this luke-warm temperament that Frederick W. Hilles, Bodman Professor of English Literature at Yale
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

 attributes the fact Reynolds never 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
Bennet Langton
Bennet Langton was an English writer and a founding member of the Literary Club. He is best known for his close friendship with writer Samuel Johnson and his numerous appearances in James Boswell's book The Life of Samuel Johnson....

, that both his sister and niece were away from home "so that I am quite a bachelor." Biographer Ian McIntyre
Ian McIntyre
Ian McIntyre is the head men's soccer coach at Syracuse University. On January 6, 2010, he was named as the 15th soccer coach in school history. He previously coached at Hartwick College from 2003 to 2009, posting four 10 win seasons. He compiled a 71-36-25 record as the head coach of the Hawks...

 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
Kitty Fisher
Kitty Fisher was a prominent British courtesan. Her celebrity was boosted by the attention that Sir Joshua Reynolds and other artists paid her...

, who visited his house for more sittings than were strictly necessary. Claims to this end are, however, purely speculative.

See also

  • Grand manner
    Grand manner
    Grand Manner refers to an idealized aesthetic style derived from classical art, and the modern "classic art" of the High Renaissance. In the eighteenth century, British artists and connoisseurs used the term to describe paintings that incorporated visual metaphors in order to suggest noble qualities...

  • English school of painting
  • Mary Nesbitt
    Mary Nesbitt
    Mary Nesbitt was an English upper class socialite and courtesan who mixed in the elevated circles of government and royalty in late 18th century Great Britain. Her home, Norwood House, in Upper Norwood, then Surrey, now South London, became a meeting place for the rich and powerful.-Life:She was...

    , eighteenth-century courtesan who began her career as Reynolds' model.
  • Martin Postle
    Martin Postle
    Dr. Martin Postle serves as the assistant director of the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London, United Kingdom, and is an expert on Sir Joshua Reynolds.-Career:...

    , an expert on Joshua Reynolds

Further reading

  • John Barrell, The Political Theory of Painting from Reynolds to Hazlitt (1986).
  • A. Graves and W. V. Cronin, A History of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds (1899–1901, 4 volumes).
  • F. W. Hilles, The Literary Career of Sir Joshua Reynolds (1936).
  • Derek Hudson, Sir Joshua Reynolds: A Personal Study (1958).
  • J. Ingamells and J. Edgcumbe (eds.), The Letters of Sir Joshua Reynolds (2000).
  • C. R. Leslie and T. Taylor, Life and Times of Sir Joshua Reynolds (1865, 2 volumes).
  • E. Malone (ed.), The Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds (1798, 3 volumes).
  • D. Mannings, Sir Joshua Reynolds PRA, 1723–92 (1992).
  • J. Northcote, Memoirs of Sir Joshua Reynolds, knt. (1813–15).
  • J. Northcote, The Life of Sir Joshua Reynolds (1818, 2nd edition, 2 volumes).
  • Martin Postle, Joshua Reynolds: The Creation of Celebrity (Tate
    Tate
    -Places:*Tate, Georgia, a town in the United States*Tate County, Mississippi, a county in the United States*Táté, the Hungarian name for Totoi village, Sântimbru Commune, Alba County, Romania*Tate, Filipino word for States...

    , 2005). ISBN 1854375644
  • Martin Postle, Sir Joshua Reynolds: The Subject Pictures (1995).
  • Martin Postle, Drawings of Joshua Reynolds.
  • R. Prochno, Joshua Reynolds (1990).
  • E. K. Waterhouse, Reynolds (1941).
  • E. K. Waterhouse, Reynolds (1973).

External links


Paintings


Writings



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