Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), a central figure in the history of British art, both through his paintings and through the transformation he effected, by institutional and literary means, upon his calling. From the beginning of his career as a painter, his use of allusion to the Old Masters marked him out from his contemporaries. This was consolidated by two years' study in Rome (and a few weeks in Venice) from 1750 to 1752. The following year he began to make a name for himself in London, blending elements of the Grand Style with fashionable portraiture, helping to establish the genre English historical art whilst becoming the leading painter of his day.

When the Royal Academy was founded in 1768, Reynolds was the natural choice for President. He used this position to promote a British school of painting, the intellectual basis of which is set out in the influential Reynolds's Discourses (fifteen talks delivered to the Royal Academy at various times between 1769 and 1790). Reynolds's Discourses became a benchmark for art criticism and art education in the early nineteenth century. Ruskin 's Modern Painters I, (along with all British writings on aesthetics from this period) is amongst other things a response to Reynolds's writings (see Ruskin and Reynolds).


Tiziano Vecellio (Titian) c.1490-1576
San Pietro Martire c.1526-30
Oil on canvas, 515x308cm
Provenance: Painted for the Church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo, Venice; destroyed by fire, 1867
Further Comments: There has been several copies of this work; the first by Niccolo Cassana, which replaced the one in the Church destroyed by fire; the second a woodcut by Martin Rota (1558-86); the third, a copy in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK.
Collection: None
For a reproduction of this artistic work, please consult: Shanes, Eric, Turner's Human Landscape, (Heinemann, 1990), p.138