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Books

Reynolds produced some of the finest portraits of the 18th century – and a few of the silliest

A review of Reynolds: Portraiture in Action, by Mark Hallett, an investigation of the strate­gies by which the painter achieved unprecedented fame

9 August 2014

9:00 AM

9 August 2014

9:00 AM

Reynolds: Portraiture in Action Mark Hallett

Yale, pp.488, £50, ISBN: 978030019699

On Monday 21 April 1760 Joshua Reynolds had a busy day. Through the morning and the afternoon he had a series of sitters. Each of these stayed for an hour in the painter’s premises on St Martin’s Lane and was no doubt ‘greatly entertained’ — as another of Reynolds’s clients recorded — by watching the progress of their portraits in a large looking-glass strategically placed behind the easel so the subject could view the artist at work.

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