Joshua Reynolds Biography | Oil Paintings
7-16-1723 Plympton, ENG – 2-23-1792 London, ENGBack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
The greatest exponents of English portraiture, a genre that derived from Holbein's and Van Dyck's stays in London was Sir Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough. The English Industrial Revolution during the second half of the eighteenth century changed the social situation and established a new relationship between the middle classes and art. Portraiture, before confined to the aristocracy and higher clergy, also became accessible to the bourgeoisie. The emphatic and celebratory style typical of the aristocratic portrait was now replaced by a more faithful likeness.
Born in Plympton, Devon, Joshua Reynolds was apprenticed in London to Thomas Hudson, a second-rate portrait painter, from whom he learned the rudiments of his craft. In 1743 Joshua Reynolds settled in Plymouth, but in 1744 he returned to London where his portrait of Captain John Hamilton, brought him recognition.
Reynolds The Great Era of English Portrait Painting.
In 1749, Joshua Reynolds met Commodore Augustus Keppel, who invited him to join HMS Centurion, on a voyage to the Mediterranean. He spent two years, studying the Old Masters, perfecting his technique and acquiring a taste for the "Grand Style". This style was inspired by Raphael's consummate model and far removed from the “studied carelessness” of Rococo. While in Rome he suffered a severe cold, which left him partially deaf, and, as a result, he began to carry a small ear trumpet with which he is often pictured. He returned to England in 1752. By 1760 he was the most fashionable portrait painter in London, A prolific artist, he produced over 2000 portraits, many of which were published as engravings that further enhanced his reputation.
Reynolds was unrivaled in child portraiture, a genre that generally distinguishes English painters from their continental colleagues. These two refined and enchanting examples Master Hare and Portrait of Miss Bowles with her Dog, illustrate the artist's fantasy, delicate touch, clever use of light, and smiling freshness, a more pleasant contrast to his more composed and studied “official” paintings. Colonel George K H Coussmaker Grenadier Guards is a typical example of Reynold's noble style. The aristocratic figure of the young Colonel is captured in a pose of studied nonchalance and the figure's noble bearing is accentuated by the line of the tree trunk and the horse's neck.
Reynolds, the first president of the Royal Academy.
Reynolds, the first president of the Royal Academy in 1768, a position he held until his death and knighted a year later. He considered portraiture to be a genre that was “vulgar and limited”, on which only the hand of a genius could confer dignity. He favored full-length, life-size portraits and he sometimes painted his models in the guise of historic or mythological personages. Joshua Reynolds also painted large numbers of smaller works. In the late 1750s, at the height of the social season, he received five or six sitters a day, each for an hour. While Reynolds painted the face and features, the clothing was painted by the drapery painter Peter Toms, his studio assistant Giuseppe Marchi, and sometimes even one of his students.
Reynolds's Allegory of Theory has welcomed visitors to the Royal Academy in London since 1780. This institution, which was crucial in the in the establishment of the English School, Reynolds as its first president proved to have exceptional organizational and teaching skills. He was precisely aware of a need to provide young English artists with essential technical and cultural bases that had been neglected for a century. This choice was to become pivotal, especially for the first students coming from the North American colonies, like Benjamin West and Singleton Copley. During the early development of the Royal Academy under Reynolds, young artists received general training that was in line with the incipient Neoclassicism, due to a lack of great local tradition, the English academies enjoyed greater freedom of expression that those on the continent. Between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in England, there was an exceptionally close dialog between painting and literature, anticipating what was to happen in the rest of Europe during the nineteenth century.
Art Movement: Rococo.
Artists Influencing Joshua Reynolds: Thomas Hudson, Peter Lely.
He Traveled To Italy, Portugal, Spain, Algeria, France.
Painters Joshua Reynolds Influenced: James Northcote.
Artist Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist.