Portraits of celebrities by Joshua Reynolds

Joshua Reynolds. Omai detail. 1776. Private Collection

The retrospective exhibition dedicated to one of the most celebrated English portraitists Joshua Reynolds is opened through May 26 – September 18, 2005 at Tate gallery in London. The event not only provides a general survey of Reynolds’ art but also focuses on a key aspect of his achievement, and sets it within the social, political and cultural context of the artist’s times. Through his paintings, his friendships and his manipulation of the media, Reynolds was – as this exhibition reveals – a driving force in the creation of a cult of celebrity which is so familiar today.

The exhibition features the greatest portraits by Reynolds, depicting renowned men and women of the XVIII century, such as the actress Sarah Siddons, the writer Samuel Johnson, the political philosopher Edmund Burke and other celebrities. But Reynolds did not simply paint these individuals. He made friends with them, brought them into contact with one another, and shaped their public images.

The highlight of this spectacular event is indisputably Reynolds’s famous portrait of Omai. Omai was a young Polynesian man who came to England with Captain Cook and became a sensation in aristocratic and intellectual circles.

This is Tate Britain’s first ever exhibition dedicated to Joshua Reynolds

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Published in: on June 9, 2005 at 6:15 am  Leave a Comment  
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