Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) painter and 1st President of Royal Academy

  • About the work
    Country: Denmark
    City: Copenhagen
    Place: British Embassy

    Sir Joshua Reynolds, President of the Royal Academy, wears the robes of a Doctor of Law, the honorary degree he was awarded in in July 1773. In his right hand he clutches a roll of drawings by Michelangelo. Reynolds painted several versions of his self-portrait in doctoral robes. This replica portrait by his pupil, James Northcote, is apparently copied from the version of 1775, now in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. A larger version, which also includes a bust of Michelangelo, is in the collection of the Royal Academy.

  • About the artist
    Joshua Reynolds was the dominant artistic personality during the age of George III. He was born in Plympton, Devon. From 1750 to 1752 he studied the work of the Old Masters in Rome. Reynolds returned via Florence and Paris, and settled in London in 1753. In 1759 he painted a portrait of the future king, George, Prince of Wales (Royal Collection). After George’s accession the following year, Reynolds was dismayed to learn that Allan Ramsay had been made Principal Painter to the King. This marked the beginning of increasing hostility between Reynolds and the King. Nonetheless, by 1760 Reynolds had established himself as the leading portraitist. He became President of the Royal Academy in 1768 and was knighted the following year.
    James Northcote was born in Plymouth and moved to London in 1771. There he entered the Royal Academy Schools and worked as an assistant to Joshua Reynolds, first president of the Royal Academy. He travelled to Italy in 1777 and was elected to artists’ academies in Florence, Rome and Cortona. After returning to England in 1780 he established a practice as a portrait painter and exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy from 1781. Northcote was elected an Associate of the RA in 1786 and a full Academician the following year.
  • Explore
    Reynolds, Sir Joshua
    Materials & Techniques
    canvas, oil, oil painting
  • Details
    Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) painter and 1st President of Royal Academy
    Oil on canvas
    height: 76.30 cm, width: 63.70 cm
    Purchased from Christie's, 21 November 1952
    br: [Monogram] | on scroll: Disegani del Divino Michel. Angelo Bon.
    Collection of Harry Bawden Bellew, Oakhampton House [or Oakhampton Manor], Wiveliscombe, Somerset; collection of ‘Mrs Harry Norton’; by whom sold through Christie’s, London, on 21 November 1952, ‘Catalogue of Pictures by Old Masters: The Properties of Mrs Harry Norton . . .’ (Lot 32); from which sale purchased by Richard Walker on behalf of the Ministry of Works
    GAC number