Joshua Reynolds | England 1723-1792 | Portrait of Aneas Mackay of Ravenhead House, late 1760s | Oil on canvas | 90 x 70cm | Purchased 1978 | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
Portrait of Aneas Mackay of Ravenhead House, late 1760s
Oil on canvas
90 x 70cm
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
Portrait of Aneas Mackay of Ravenhead House late 1760s
Joshua Reynolds was born in Devon, England, and became one of Britain's most influential portrait painters.
Reynolds is best known for his portraits of members of Georgian society, frequently incorporating narrative elements and classical allusions. His portraits were commissioned by wealthy patrons seeking status and dignity and, by 1755, he was painting 150 sitters a year.
In 1768, he was elected the first president of the Royal Academy. Established under the patronage of King George III, the Royal Academy gave artists greater social and intellectual status. Reynolds was knighted in 1769 and became the King's principal painter in 1784.
Portrait of Aneas Mackay of Ravenhead House late 1760s is typical of Reynold's compositions and subject matter. It shows a young man gazing to the left of the canvas, silhouetted against a cloudy sky. The pose emphasises the dignity of the sitter, with attention drawn to his fine clothes and hand gestures, recalling paintings by Italian masters such as Michelangelo.
Reynolds was inspired by the great masters and often based his compositions on elements taken from them. Reynolds's paintings are notoriously difficult to conserve due to his habit of experimenting with different substances, such as asphalt, in order to imitate the mellowed tone of old master paintings.