Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 23 >> Runes to The Lock Rape Of >> Sir Reynolds

Sir Reynolds

london, joshua, vols, painter, portraits, life and portrait

REYNOLDS, SIR Joshua, English portrait painter: b. Plymouth, Devonshire, 16 July 1723; d. London, 23 Feb. 1792. He was the son of Rev. Samuel Reynolds, master of the gram mar school at Plympton Saint Mary, Plymouth, who intended him for the medical profession; but Reynolds declared himself for art and went to London in 1741 and studied under Thomas Hudson. This painter was at the head of his profession at a time when there were no very shining lights and from him Reynolds acquired a correctness of drawing and a certain reflec tion of the style of Van Dyck that gave way subsequently, in great measure, to other influ ences. He returned to Devonshire after two years and painted portraits for small prices; went again to London in 1745 and established himself as a painter, but death of his father the following year recalled him to Plymouth. ,In 1749 he accompanied young Commodore Kep pel, then sent on a mission to the Barbary states, to the Mediterranean and spent more than three years in Italy, mainly at Rome with visits to Florence, Bologna, Parma, Venice and a short stay at Paris on his return to London. In Italy, he studied the Italian masters, espe cially in respect to their handling of light and shade. He learned from the Venetians much of their mastery of color, so that when he settled again in London in 1753 his work showed the influence of Correggio primarily with reminis cences of Tintoretto, Veronese and Titian. In that year he painted a portrait of Commodore Keppel that lifted him at once into fame. This picture, now in the Grosvenor Gallery, is al most a monochrome in gray, with a few faint suggestions of color; but is remarkable for its effects of light and for individuality of por traiture. So popular did the young painter be come that in 1755 120 persons sat to him for their portraits. His work, which is of such considerable extent, does not display a uniform excellence, since to produce it all he had to call in the assistance of journeymen. In 1768 he was made president of the Royal Academy upon its establishment; and the next year he de livered his first discourse to the students. His social success was commensurate with his fame as an artist ; George III knighted him and ap pointed him court painter in succession to Allan Ramsay. He lived on terms of intimacy with

Dr. Johnson, Goldsmith, Burke, Gibbon, Gar rick and was the founder of the Literary Club in 1764 where these distinguished men assem bled. His body lay in state in the Royal Acad emy and he was buried in Saint Paul's Cathe dral.

The mendon of his portraits would include all the names famous in the upper world of society and the arts in his day, and there is no higher source for learning of the beauty of English women, the character of English men and the fashions of taste of the later 18th cen tury. He was graceful in arrangement of fig ures and accessories, was able in his portraits of men and women to differentiate a masculine vigor and a feminine charm, and in his mastery of color achieved a position, according to Rus kin, as tone of the seven great colorists') of the world. Posterity cannot fully appreciate his power in the latter direction, as he often used impermanent mediums and resorted to a thick impasto, which has cracked with time. His work is amply represented in the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery of London and the numerous great collections belonging to noble families. In America his pictures are to be found in fewer numbers in the larger mu seums and in the possession of private collect ors. He published