The Art and Where to Find It

Lady Cockburn and her Three Eldest Sons

Artist: Sir Joshua Reynolds

Year: 1773

Location: Red Lion Yard. The original is on display at The National Gallery, London.

An oil on canvas group portrait based on a composition taken from an historical source. Reynolds exploited two classical paintings: the attitude of the child on the left was modelled on Cupid in Velzquez's Toilet of Venus whilst the general composition was inspired by Anthony Van Dyck's Charity. When it first went on display at the Royal Academy it was greeted with a round of applause. The audience recognising not only Lady Cockburn but the representation of Charity and a famous anecdote at the time about Cornelia, an understated Roman figure who described her children as "her jewels." Joshua Reynolds, Lady Cockburn and her Three Eldest Sons Copyright The National Gallery, London.