Cultured Wednesday: Joshua Reynolds’ Little Girl

Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723 – 1792) was an English portrait painter, one of the major European painters of the 18th century, some say.  “Grande Style” was his cup of tea, and hence, his portraits would smooth out imperfections in his models to present the ideal rather than reality.  In fact, it appears that he often had others paint the clothing of his models for him, and that the actual model would not have to sit on those occasions: Someone else would wear the clothing that was to be in the painting.

Regardless, consider this beautiful portrait.

The Age of Innocence Reynolds
Joshua Reynolds: A Little Girl, later renamed “The Age of Innocence”, c. 1788

While there surely was a model who sat for this painting, it is rather a character study than “just” a portrait.  In the eighteenth century, they would have referred to it as a “fancy picture”.  It became immensely popular in its time, and does this surprise you much?

If you happen to be in or around London, you can see this portrait at the Tate (Tate Britain, that is), where it has been on display since 1951.

Incidentally, Reynolds also painted a portrait of Edward Cornwallis.


2 Replies to “Cultured Wednesday: Joshua Reynolds’ Little Girl”

  1. It’s beautiful! I’m just surprised Reynolds managed to get a little child to sit for the portrait at all. I can see why he’d need extra sessions without a model just to paint the clothes.

    Liked by 1 person

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