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Portrait of Mary Townshend by Sir Joshua Reynolds

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Portrait of Mary Townshend by Sir Joshua Reynolds

- Item No.

The honourable Mary Townshend is the subject of this enchanting portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds

Key Features

  • An incredible portrait by the famed Sir Joshua Reynolds
  • The subject is that of Mary Townshend, the daughter of British politician Thomas Townshend
  • Reynolds was heavily influenced by Michelangelo and Peter Paul Rubens
  • The piece exhibits the calm dignity, lush colors and classical composition of Reynolds' finest works
  • Oil on canvas; Circa 1757
  • Canvas: 36 1/2" high x 28" wide; Frame: 45 1/2" high x 37 1/2" wide

Item Details

  • Width:
    C: 28; F: 37 1/2 Inches
  • Height:
    C: 36 1/2: 45 1/2 Inches
  • Period:
    18th Century
  • Origin:
  • Subject:
  • Artist:
    Reynolds, Sir Joshua
Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A.
1723-1792 English

Portrait of Mary Townshend

Oil on canvas
Circa 1757

A remarkable portrait by eminent 18th-century artist Sir Joshua Reynolds. Stylistically, he was influenced by Michelangelo and the Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens. Reynolds' portraits were distinguished by calm dignity, classical allusions, rich color, and realistic portrayal of character. His portraits form an epitome of London society of his day. Knighted in 1768, he came to be the first English painter to achieve social recognition for his artistic achievements. He, along with Thomas Gainsborough, was the dominant English portraitist of the era.

Reynolds approached art from a philosophical and scientific standpoint, and was an accomplished academic. He maintained close friendships with some of the premier intellectual figures of the day, including essayist and critic Samuel Johnson, actor David Garrick and fellow artist Angelica Kauffmann. As one of the founders and first President of the Royal Academy, Reynolds promoted the "Grand Style" in painting which depended on idealization of the imperfect. He was one of the earliest members of the Royal Society of Arts. He encouraged society's interest in contemporary art and, with Thomas Gainsborough, established the Royal Academy as a spin-out organization. In 1769 he delivered the first of his annual lectures, or Discourses, published in 1778, to the students of the academy in which he set forth the idealistic, moralizing principles of academic art. These Discourses, which he delivered between 1769 and 1790, are remembered for their sensitivity and perception. 

As the daughter of politician Thomas Townshend and his wife Albinia, the sitter, the Honorable Mary Elizabeth Townshend, was born into an extremely well-connected and politically influential family. Her father was Member of Parliament for over 50 years, from 1722 to 1774, as well as a Teller of the Exchequer from 1727 until 1780. Miss Townshend's brother, Thomas Townshend, was the 1st Viscount Sydney, after whom Sydney, Australia was named.

Canvas: 36 1/2" high x 28" wide
Frame: 45 1/2" high x 37 1/2" wide 

Almost certainly by descent through Mary Townshend's brother to
John Robert Townshend, 3rd Viscount Sydney (later 1st Earl Sydney) (d.1890), by 1867, and by descent to,
Robert Marsham-Townshend, the above's nephew, 1899
with Knoedler's, London
Private Collection, United States, 1941

This work is listed in the catalogue raisonné on the artist entitled Sir Joshua Reynolds: A Complete Catalogue of his Paintings by David Mannings, London, 2002, page 448.

Artists Exhibitions:
South Kensington, London, National Portrait Exhibition, 1867, no. 425 (lent by Viscount Sydney, G.C.B.) 

Artist's Museums and Collections:
Louvre Museum, Paris
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
The Royal Collection, London
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia

The World of Gainsborough: 1727-1788, 1969, Jonathan Norton Leonard
Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculperus, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, 1976, E. Bénézit
Davenport's Art Reference, 1995, R. J. Davenport

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Price: $248,500
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