Sir Joshua Reynolds Most Popular Paintings
Sir Joshua Reynolds Paintings
Sir Joshua Reynolds was the most important and influential of 18th century English painters, specializing in portraits and promoting the "Grand Style" in painting which depended on idealization of the imperfect. He was one of the founders and first President of the Royal Academy. George III appreciated his merits and knighted him in 1769. Reynolds was born in Plympton St Maurice, Devon, on 16 July 1723, and apprenticed in 1740 to the fashionable portrait painter Thomas Hudson, with whom he remained until 1743. From 1749 to 1752, he spent over two years in Italy, mainly in Rome, where he studied the Old Masters and acquired a taste for the "Grand Style". From 1753 on, he lived and worked in London. He became a close friend of Dr. Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith, Edmund Burke, Henry Thrale, David Garrick, and fellow artist Angelica Kauffmann. He was one of the earliest members of the Royal Society of Arts. He encouraged that society's interest in contemporary art and, with Thomas Gainsborough, established the Royal Academy as a spin-out organization.
With his rival Thomas Gainsborough, he was the dominant English portraitist of the second half of the 18th century. Reynolds painted in more of an idealized fashion than his rival. It is said that in his long life he painted as many as three thousand portraits.
Reynolds was an accomplished academic. His lectures (Discourses) on art, delivered at the Royal Academy 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." In 1789 he lost the sight of his left eye, and on 23 February 1792, he died in his house in Leicester Fields, London. He was buried in St. Paul's Cathedral. Reynolds and the Royal Academy were the subject of notable criticism, including that of the Pre-Raphaelites and William Blake, the latter of whom published his vitriolic Annotations to Sir Joshua Reynolds' Discourses in 1808.