Sir Joshua Reynolds
Date of Birth: 16/7/1723
The leading English portraitist of the 18th century who was knighted in 1769. Reynolds was born at Plympton in Devon, the son of a headmaster he showed an early interest in art and was apprenticed in 1740 to the fashionable portrait painter Thomas Hudson. He spent 1749-52 abroad studying the Old Masters and set up practice in London shortly after his return. He soon established himself as the leading portrait painter. He was a key figure in the intellectual life of London and when the Royal Academy was founded in 1768, Reynolds was elected its first President. It is said that in his long life he painted as many as three thousand portraits and he could command large fees. In 1764 he was paid 100 Guineas for a portrait of Lord Burghersh but said that he would be ruined if he became Principal Painter in Ordinary to the King as it only paid two hundred to thirty-eight pounds per annum. Reynolds was a great rival of Thomas Gainsborough.