Cool facts about Reynolds

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 Anne Dashwood  (detail) by Joshua Reynolds - 1764

Joshua Reynolds is one of the most influential portrait painters in English history. During the 18th century he dedicated his art and talents to portraying the rich aristocracy and royalty. Here's some interesting information about him:

1. He painted over thousands of portraits during his life. During one point, he was painting 150 portraits in one year.

2. Despite painting so much, he still managed to create incredibly different portraits. His arch-rival, English painter Thomas Gainsborough, said of him: "Damn him! How various he is!"

3. Before painting a little girl with her dog (pictured below) he tried gaining the girl's confidence. He stayed in her house and had dinner with her. He amused her with stories and tricks. In the end, she thought he was the most charming man in the world. "The next day she was delighted to be taken to his house, where she sat down with an expression full of glee, the expression of which he at once caught and never lost."

Miss Bowles by Joshua Reynolds - 1775

4. He was one of the founders and the first president of the Royal Academy. In his last speech as president, in 1790, he dedicated his speech to his rival Thomas Gainsborough. You can read some of his discourses, where he advocates rigorous academic training and the study of old masters, here

5. He was an intellectual himself and had many friends who were writers and thinkers such as Edmund Burke, Dr. Samuel Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith and Horace Walpole.

Lord Heathfield by Joshua Reynolds - 1787


Source (3) The Story of Art by E. H. Gombrich p. 355-356

All images via WikiPaintings

What's your favorite painting by Reynolds? Do you like portraits?

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