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Sir Joshua Reynolds

1 of 1413 portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds

Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Sir Joshua Reynolds

by Sir Joshua Reynolds
circa 1747-1749
25 in. x 29 1/4 in. (635 mm x 743 mm)
NPG 41


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This portraitback to top

The only (undisputed) one of Reynolds’s many self-portraits to show him engaged in his trade. [1] The engravings show that between 1808 and c.1823 NPG 41 was reduced along the top and bottom edges to its present shape. The proportions of the 1795 mezzotint suggest the original size was 91 x 75 and that 20 cms. were removed from the top edge and 8 cms from the bottom. [2]
NPG 41 may be dated after Reynolds had left Hudson in London and before his departure for Italy in May 1749, as Malone first suggested [3] and Mannings has argued; the brown and blue of his frock coat and silk waistcoat are indicative of the 1740s. [4] The originality of the composition and the technical assurance had previously suggested a later dating; Leslie and Taylor had hinted that the mouth showed signs of the accident Reynolds sustained in 1749. [5]
A nineteenth-century copy of NPG 41 in its present format is at Stourhead.

Footnotesback to top

1) See self portraits c.1765-70.
2) NPG 41 appears in a reduced oval form in the background of Northcote’s Worthies of England dated 1828 (Coram Foundation), but this format may have been invented to conform with the other half-length portraits shown in his composition.
3) E. Malone ed., The Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1797, I, p XLVI.
4) See N. Penny & D. Mannings, Joshua Reynolds, exhibition catalogue, RA, 1986, p 175.
5) C. R. Leslie & T. Taylor, Life and Times of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1865, I, p 34.

Referenceback to top

Graves & Cronin 1899-1901
A. Graves & W. V. Cronin, A History of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 4 vols., 1899-1901, II, pp 790-91.

Mannings 1975
D. Mannings, Burl. Mag., CXVII, 1975, p 219.

Mannings 2000
D. Mannings, Sir Joshua Reynolds, I, no.2.

Waterhouse 1941
E. K. Waterhouse, Reynolds, 1941, p 39, as 1753-4.

Physical descriptionback to top

Brown eyes, dark hair, wearing a grey frock coat with a velvet collar, and a blue silk waistcoat;1 an area at the extreme bottom left, with the easel and the artist’s right hand, is left unfinished.

1 The palette in his right hand resembles one in the Cottonian Collection, Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery.

Provenanceback to top

Thomas Lane (c.1742-1817) of Cofflett, Devon, by 1795; Lane sale, Christie’s, 24 May 1845, lot 62, bought B. S. Smith; Joseph Sandars of Taplow House, Berks;1 his sale Christie’s, 15 May 1858, lot 40, purchased.

1 Corn merchant of Liverpool, s. of Joseph Sandars (1752-1842) of Derby; described as of Johnston House (W. Cotton, Sir Joshua Reynolds and his Works, 1856, p 272) and of Taplow House, Berks (G. F. Waagen, Treasures of Art in Great Britain, IV, p 292; perhaps acquired following the death of the 2nd Marquess of Thomond at Taplow in 1846); instrumental in the building of the Liverpool-Manchester railway.

Exhibitionsback to top

Second special exhibition of National Portraits (William and Mary to MDCCC), South Kensington,1867 (517); Reynolds, Grosvenor Gallery, 1883-84 (148); British Painting, Moscow, Leningrad, 1960 (17); La Pittura Inglese, Rome, 1966 (21); Reynolds, Plymouth, 1973 (27); La peinture dans la peinture, Dijon, 1983; Reynolds, RA, 1986 (13); Reynolds, Sudbury, Plymouth, 1992 (3); L'âme au corps: arts et sciences, Paris, 1993-94; Face to Face, Liverpool, 1994 (29); Treasures from the National Portrait Gallery, NPG exhibition, Fukushima, Nagoya, Kitakyushu Hiroshima, Tokyo, 1995-96 (10); Mirror Image, National Gallery, 1998.

Reproductionsback to top

S. W. Reynolds 1 February 1795 (From an Original Picture in the possession of Thos Lane Esqr of Coffleet); R. Cooper, from a drawing by J. Jackson, 24 June 1813 (reversed, for Northcote's Memoir of Reynolds);1 S. W. Reynolds c.1823 (showing the portrait reduced to its present proportions).

1 Illus. A. Whitman, S. W. Reynolds, 1903, f.p.6 (and see no.247); Jackson gave his drawing to David Wilkie on 6 August 1808 (A. Cunningham, David Wilkie, 1843, I, p 186). See also Rembrandt in England in the 18th century, New Haven, 1983, no.33.


This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits 1760-1790, National Portrait Gallery, 2004, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.

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