Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) became the first president of the Royal Academy in 1768.
His portraits display a facility for striking and characterful compositions in a consciously grand manner. He often borrowed classical poses, for example Mrs Siddons as the Tragic Muse in 1784 (San Marino, California, USA).
Reynolds, born near Plymouth, went to London at the age of 17, and was apprenticed to the portrait painter Thomas Hudson (1701-1779).
From 1743 he practised in Plymouth and London, and in 1749-1752 completed his studies in Rome and Venice, concentrating on the antique and the High Renaissance masters.
After his return to London he became the leading portraitist of his day, for example Admiral Keppel 1753-1754 (National Maritime Museum, London). His Discourses on Art 1769-1791 contain his theories on the aims of academic art.
Why is Joshua Reynolds famous?
Joshua Reynolds was a English portrait painter, active in London from 1752.