barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham


JOSHUA REYNOLDS (1723-1792)

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)

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