Painted in 1779-80, this companion portrait to that of George III shows Queen Charlotte in a modest pose, despite her lavish robes.
Sir Joshua Reynolds reportedly requested sittings from the monarch as a condition of his acceptance of the presidency of the Royal Academy. The fact that painter felt it necessary to include such a stipulation demonstrates his tense relationship with the king.
This portrait was commissioned for the new premises of the Royal Academy at Somerset House, as a companion to Reynolds’ portrait of George III. Reynolds received two hundred guineas for both works on their completion and the original versions remain in the collection of the Royal Academy. After the death of the Allan Ramsay (the king’s Principal Painter) in 1784, Reynolds became the chief supplier of Royal portraits to Governors and Ambassadors and his studio assistants were occupied in producing numerous replicas of the Royal Academy portraits, including this example.
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.
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