JOSHUA REYNOLDS (1723 – 1792)

Maria Marow Gideon and her Brother, William London, 1786/7 Oil on canvas 240 x 148 cm Maria (1767-1834) and William (1775-1805) were the children of Sir Sampson Gideon, who paid Reynolds £300 for this painting in 1787. Maria later married Gregory, 14th Lord Saye and Sele, whilst William, having risen to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel … Read more

Richard Wilson (1712/13-1782)

The River Dee near Eaton Hall London, probably exhibited 1760 Oil on canvas 54 x 88.6 cm This view of the River Dee in Cheshire looks upstream to the south-west and the distant hills of Wales. It was painted for Sir Richard Grosvenor, the owner of the nearby Eaton estate.  The Welsh artist Wilson had … Read more

Jean-François de Troy (1679-1752)

Jason Taming the Bulls of Aeetes Rome, about 1742 Oil on canvas 55.3 x 128.9 cm Jason, in the centre, miraculously tames two fire-breathing bulls in his quest for the Golden Fleece.  He is watched in amazement to the left by Aeetes, the King of Colchis, and by his daughter Medea.  She was Jason’s lover … Read more

Francesco Solimena (1657 – 1747)

The Holy Trinity, with the Madonna and Saints Naples, about 1705 Oil on canvas 101 x 128 cm   This is a preliminary study for a large altarpiece, known as a modello. It was painted for a church of Franciscan nuns in Naples where Solimena worked throughout his life.  Saint Francis, and his follower Saint Clare, … Read more

George Romney (1734-1802)

A Portrait of John Smith London, 1782 Oil on canvas 127 x 101.6 cm John Smith (1703-1787) is shown seated against a window with a snuff box in his left hand.  He was a successful merchant who had some interest in the arts.  He would have been seventy-nine when he sat for this portrait, which … Read more

Hubert Robert (1733-1808)

An Architectural Capriccio with Hermit, Bather and Washerwoman Paris, 1796 Oil on canvas 80 x 64.8 cm A capriccio is a fantastic mixture of real and imaginary features, in this case of buildings.  A bell tower emerges from a ruined classical temple which has acquired some additional humble domestic elements.  The figures reflect the same … Read more

Sebastiano Ricci (1659-1734) and Marco Ricci (1676-1730)

An Allegorical Tomb of the First Duke of Devonshire Venice, about 1725 Oil on canvas 217.8 x 138.4 cm This elaborate imaginary tomb of the Duke of Devonshire (1640-1707) was one of a series. It was commissioned by Owen McSwiney to celebrate the political triumph of the Whig party following the Glorious Revolution of 1688.  … Read more

JOSHUA REYNOLDS (1723- 1792)

A Portrait of Richard Robinson London, 1779 Oil on canvas 142.3 x 114.5 cm The Englishman Richard Robinson (1709-1794) was made Archbishop of Armagh in 1765, so when this portrait was painted he was Primate of Ireland. He is dressed in the appropriate clerical garb of the day: wig, hat, dark-grey coat, and black waistband … Read more

JOSHUA REYNOLDS (1723 – 1792)

A Portrait of the Reverend William Beele Devonport, about 1748 Oil on canvas 76.2 x 63.5 cm William Beele (1704-1757) was appointed a naval chaplain in 1727 and he was stationed at Devonport where this portrait was painted. He is shown half-length, framed by an oval-shaped stone niche.  The artist has slightly enlarged the sitter’s … Read more

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 … Read more

GIOVANNI ANTONIO PELLEGRINI (1675-1741)

Judith and her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes England, about 1710 Oil on canvas 124.7 x 102 cm The beautiful biblical heroine Judith saved the Israelites from conquest by Assyria.  She stole into the tent of the Assyrian general Holofernes during the night and decapitated him.  Here, she passes the head to her maid.  … Read more

Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830)

A Portrait of a Lady London, the early 1790s Oil on canvas 73.6 x 60.9 cm The sitter’s identity has unfortunately been lost, but stylistic and costume evidence suggests a date in the early 1790s.  Lawrence had just then arrived in London where he achieved instant success at the Royal Academy’s exhibition, setting him on … Read more

Nicolas Lancret (1690-1743)

Lovers in a Landscape (The Turtle Doves) Paris, about 1736 Oil on canvas 75.3 x 97.5 cm A young man gazes at his elegantly-dressed partner and points to a pair of turtle doves.  The birds are the perfect model of faithful lovers who reciprocate their feelings with tenderness.  The couple’s romantic encounter in an idyllic landscape … Read more

NATHANIEL HONE (1718-1784)

A Portrait of Charles Lee Lewes London, exhibited 1775 Oil on canvas 71 x 61 cm Charles Lewes (1740-1803) was an actor and singer who specialised in comic roles. He holds the music of a popular drinking song, The Wine Vault, made more suggestive here by the way some words are obscured.  The informal pose, … Read more

Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788)

A Portrait of the Honourable Harriot Marsham London, the late 1770s Oil on canvas 75 x 61 cm Harriot Marsham (1721-1796) was the unmarried daughter of the first Baron Romney.  Gainsborough produced this commissioned portrait of her in her fifties, shortly after his move from Bath to London in 1774.  It is painted on a … Read more

Jean-Joseph-Xavier Bidauld (1758-1846)

A Cascade on the River Liri Isola del Liri, Italy, 1787 Oil on paper, laid down on canvas 25.4 x 39.4 cm Bidauld’s oil sketch was painted on the spot during the French artist’s stay in Italy (1785-90).  The artist made numerous such studies from which he later painted large historical landscapes in the neo-classical … Read more

GIOVANNI ANTONIO CANAL, KNOWN AS CANALETTO (1687-1768)

The Loggetta, Venice Venice, the 1730s Oil on canvas 45.5 x 75.4 cm The Loggetta (1537-40), at the base of the campanile, or bell tower, in Saint Mark’s Square in Venice, was built as a small assembly room.  Canaletto’s painting was cut down at an unknown date, perhaps so that it could fit over a … Read more

Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788)

The Harvest Wagon Bath, exhibited 1767 Oil on canvas 120.5 x 144.7 cm A group of rustic figures travel in a harvest wagon at the end of the working day. The figures are unusually prominent for Gainsborough’s landscapes and are the result of careful study. Two of the women are based on the artist’s daughters … Read more

ELISABETH VIGÉE-LEBRUN (1755-1842)

Portrait of Countess Golovina Moscow, about 1797/1800 Oil on canvas 83.5 x 66.7 cm Countess Golovine sweeps up her shawl and looks at us with startling candour. Vigée-Lebrun met and befriended Varvara Nikolaevna Golovina (1766–1821) in Russia in the late 1790s during the artist’s exile from revolutionary France. She described Golovina as a ‘charming woman’ who … Read more