barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham


A Portrait of a Young Man

Devonport, about 1746

Oil on canvas

34.3 x 24.1 cm


This portrait’s small scale has led to speculation about its function.

Reynolds began his career as a portraitist in Devonport and it has been suggested that the man is a naval officer who wanted to take an image of himself to sea.  The stone parapet at the front, unique in Reynolds’ work, is perhaps a sea wall.  But, equally, it may have been painted for the family of a young cadet about to undertake a hazardous voyage.  There is some evidence that the man was named John Herring.


Purchased 1970 (No.70.1)

‘Copying the Masters’ opens at the Barber

How artists have always copied other artists is the focus of our latest display.

Learn more

Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641)

Lucas Vorsterman


Charles Le Brun (1619-1690)

Louis XIV