Sir Joshua Reynolds PRA

I was asked to give a lecture at the Barber Institute who have mounted a small, but choice display about Joshua Reynolds and his collection to celebrate the RA’s 250th. anniversary.   Most people think of Reynolds only as a fashionable portrait painter, but he was also a passionate student of the history of art, hauntimg the auction rooms and buying work not least to strip them down and find out how they were painted.   There’s a drawing attributed to Tintoretto with his collector’s mark clearly visible:-


Next door is a painting which Reynolds thought (most likely, wrongly) was by Rubens of his second wife, Hélène Fourment (also wrongly).

Then an early work, when he was a jobbing artist in Devonport:-


The Rev. William Beele, also from the late 1749s, when he went to Italy (what a vast improvement):-


The Gideon children, painted in the mid-1780s, for which he was paid £300, a huge sum:-




Then it was closing time.


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