Joshua Reynolds Portrait Sells For £2.6 Million

Sotheby’s sold a portrait of Mary Wordsworth, Lady Kent, by Joshua Reynolds for £2.6 million, five times the expected price. The sale took place Thursday at the Important British Art auction. This final sale price was the second-highest paid to date for a Reynolds’ work at auction.

David Moore-Gwyn, Sotheby’s head of British paintings, said: “We are delighted with these exceptional results which prove beyond all doubt that, since the sale of Omai in 2001, Reynolds’ work can command prices of an entirely new order.”

The sale will provided a broad overview of British painting from the 17th to the 19th centuries, and will include a range of works by some of Britain’s most celebrated artists, including Sir Peter Lely, Sir Joshua Reynolds, John Constable, Johann Zoffany, Joseph Mallord William Turner and Paul Sandby.

Among a number of paintings and drawings by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) is one of the artist’s earliest surviving works. Throughout his career, Reynolds was notoriously secretive about his working methods, and he was quick to destroy any preparatory sketches that might have shed light on his practices. As a result, only a few drawings by Reynolds survive (those that do are now in major public collections) making this one of only a handful of drawings by him to have appeared on the market in recent times. Executed in 1740, the portrait was drawn at the beginning of Reynolds’ four-year apprenticeship with Thomas Hudson in London. His face is full of the youth and promise of a young man starting out in life and aware of his luck “in being under such a master, in such a family, in such a city and in such employment”.

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Published in: on June 14, 2003 at 1:59 am  Leave a Comment  
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