Happy Birthday Sir Joshua
July 16 2012
I generally try to avoid 'on this day' items, but today is Sir Joshua Reynolds' birthday. He would be 288 years old (I think). It gives me an excuse to illustrate a previously unrecorded self-portrait by Reynolds, which was sold at Christie's in the recent auctions for £325,250, a sum way over the strangely low estimate of £60-£100,000. To be honest, I thought it would make much more. Dated to the 1760s, this unfinished self-portrait is, to me, one of the best he ever painted, and in its daring appearance seems a rare combination of modernity and 18th Century genius.
However, I may be biased because 1) I love unfinished pictures and 2) we bought it. But I hope you agree with me. There is quite a lot of over-paint in the background, perhaps an attempt in the past to make the picture look less sketchy. We are doing tests now to see what lies beneath.