July 16th, 1723, birth of Joshua Reynolds. English painter and the most fashionable portraitist of the 18th Century elegant society of England. As a young painter he made his grand European tour and studied all the Italian Old Masters. This influenced his style of painting, which we now know as the Grand Style. His clients were portraited in the most impressive and perfect way. Reynolds portraits show lavish dresses and hats fit for Royal Ascot. His paintings have often been inspiration for Hollywood costume designers.
Joshua Reynolds had a busy career. No exception were 6 sitters a day, each for an hour. And next to work he was an incredible socialite, social climber and self-promoter Reynolds was a smooth talker, friendly to everyone and had no enemies. He stayed single his whole life, but of some of his female clients it was said that they visited his house for more sittings than strictly necessary for painting a portrait.
Reynolds also painted so-called “fancy pictures”, which are character studies. Painted after someone, often a family member of the artist, but now mostly unknown who the model was. Here is Reynolds “The Age of Innocence”. It’s from the Tate London and an all-time favorite of the public. Reynolds himself entitled this painting simply “A Little Girl”. The current and more poetic title has been given after Reynold’s death.
Reynold’s use of pigments for paint was of less high standard. His paintings have fading colors and the blacks tend to crack. But better to have a “Reynolds” of low quality than none at all. Sir Joshua Reynolds died in 1792 and was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral in London.