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Sir Joshua Reynolds

Plympton 1723 - 1792 London
Price range
0 – 3,000,000 USD +
The English portrait painter Sir Joshua Reynolds was the most influential of all British artists both as a painter and a power in the art world.

English artists could only make a living with portraits or landscape. Reynolds, making the best of it, aspired to raise the status of portraiture to the level of history painting by ennobling it through the language of the antique and the Italian old masters. This ideal was supported by a series of lectures called Discourses. Reynolds was the first president of the Royal Academy and an intimate of the leading men and women of his day, including Dr. Johnson, Burke, Mrs. Thrale, and David Garrick. His chief rival Gainsborough (1727–1788) hit the nail on the head when he said, “damn him, how various he is”. His technique was sometimes flawed and his sitters can look too pale because the reds in their cheeks have faded.

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Selected artworks

Top 3 auction prices

6,088,278 $
8,197,465 $
14,621,855 $


The sales are: Sotheby’s London – 1 Jul 2004 lot 8 (3,365,600 GBP), Christie’s London – 8 Jul 2014 lot 67 (4,786,500 GBP), and Sotheby’s London – 29 Nov 2001 lot 12 (10,343,500 GBP).
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Books on Joshua Reynolds

Mark Hallett, Reynolds: Portraiture in Action, New Haven, 2014.

David Mannings and Martin Postle, Sir Joshua Reynolds: a Complete Catalogue of his Paintings, New Haven, 2000.

Nicholas Penny, ed., Reynolds, exh. cat., New York, 1986.

James Northcote, Memoirs of Sir Joshua Reynolds, London, 1813.

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