Sir Joshua Reynolds

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Joshua Reynolds, PRA FRS FRSA

Birthdate: (68)
Birthplace: Plymouth Earls, Devon, England
Death: Died in London, Middlesex, England
Place of Burial: City of London, Greater London, UK
Immediate Family:

Son of Rev. Samuel Reynolds and Theophila Reynolds
Brother of Humphrey Reynolds; Robert Reynolds; Mary Palmer; Ann Reynolds; Jenny Reynolds and 5 others

Occupation: Artist
Managed by: Ned Reynolds
Last Updated:

About Sir Joshua Reynolds

Sir Joshua Reynolds was born on 16 July 1723 at Plymouth Earls, Devon, England. He died on 23 February 1792 at age 68 at London, England. He was buried at St. Paul's Cathedral, The City, London, England.


Reynolds was the first President of the Royal Academy of Art and was the leading portrait artist of his day.


Parents: He was the son of Reverend Samuel Reynolds and Theophilia Potter.[1]. Never married, no children.

"Reynolds' own sister, Frances, who lived with him as housekeeper, took her own negative opinion further still, thinking him "a gloomy tyrant". The presence of family compensated Reynolds for the absence of a wife; he wrote on one occasion to his friend Bennet Langton, that both his sister and niece were away from home "so that I am quite a bachelor".

From The Evening Mail, Feb 24 1792,  London, Middlesex, United Kingdom:

" ... Sir Joshua has made Miss Palmer, his niece, residuary legatee; to James Boswell, Esq., he has left 200; to Mr. Burke, 2000; and to seventeen of his particular friends, a painting each."


  • from the Dictionary of National Biography, Joshua Reynolds, by William Cosmo Monkhouse:

Reynolds was the greatest portrait-painter that England has produced, and one of the greatest painters of the world. Mr. Ruskin ranks him among the ‘seven supreme colourists,’ the others being Titian, Giorgione, Correggio, Tintoretto, Veronese, and Turner, and says:

‘Considered as a painter of individuality in the human form and mind, I think him, even as it is, the prince of portrait-painters. Titian paints nobler pictures and Vandyck had nobler subjects, but neither of them entered so subtly as Sir Joshua did into the minor varieties of human heart and temper’ (The Two Paths, Lect. 2).

Without any physical advantages—for he was neither tall nor handsome, and had the great social drawback of deafness—he secured without seeking, and maintained without effort, a position in society which is almost unrivalled. Treating all men on the plain level of common human nature and unactuated by any prejudice, he mixed, as by natural charter, with all classes. His principal passports were kindliness, sincerity, and tolerance; but these were aided by a ready sympathy, a well-informed mind, gentle manners, and invariable tact and common-sense. The charm of his presence and conversation was all the more irresistible because it was unforced and unfeigned.

The keynote of his whole life was his art—whether consciously or not he acted up to the ideal of a perfect portrait-painter—whose business was not to criticise but to observe, not to direct but to reflect the currents of society.

'I go,’ he said, ‘with the great stream of life.’



  1. [S1221] Michael Ashworth, "re: Palmer Family," e-mail message to Darryl Lundy, 18 December 2004 - 3 November 2005. Hereinafter cited as "re: Palmer Family."
  2. [S130] Wikipedia, online http;// Hereinafter cited as Wikipedia.
  3. [S3409] Caroline Maubois, "re: Penancoet Family," e-mail message to Darryl Roger Lundy, 2 December 2008. Hereinafter cited as "re: Penancoet Family."
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Sir Joshua Reynolds's Timeline

July 16, 1723
Plymouth Earls, Devon, England
February 23, 1792
Age 68
London, Middlesex, England
Age 68
City of London, Greater London, UK