From the Estate of Louise Barringer of South Carolina; by descent, Mary Scott Rooker of Atlanta, GA.
Reynolds was the leading English portraitist of the 18th Century. He brought great variety and dignity to British portraiture through his study of ancient and Italian Renaissance art, and of the work of Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669), Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) and Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641).
Reynolds was born at Plympton, Devon and had a more educated background than many painters; his father was a headmaster and fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. In 1740 Reynolds was apprenticed to the fashionable London portraitist Thomas Hudson (1701-1779), who also trained Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-1797). He set up his own practice in London after spending time abroad, predominantly in Italy, between 1749 and 1752.
Reynolds soon established himself as the leading portrait painter and was a key figure in the intellectual life of London. He played a vital role in organising the group of thirty-four artists and architects who signed a petition to found a Royal Academy of Arts. It was to hold an annual exhibition, the Summer Exhibition, of living artists’ work and establish a free art school. He was elected as the first President of the Royal Academy when it was founded in 1768.
Reynolds set out his theories on art in a series of fifteen ground-breaking lectures, Discourses of Art, which are still in print today, they have been hugely influential on the development of British art.