Sir Joshua ReynoldsA Man's Head c.1771-3

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Artwork details

Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723‑1792)
A Man's Head
Date c.1771-3
MediumOil paint on canvas
Dimensionssupport: 584 x 457 mm
Acquisition Presented by Sir George Beaumont Bt 1826
Not on display


This small oil study of an old man's head angled sharply away from the viewer (in so-called profil perdu) was painted by Reynolds during the early 1770s from one of his favourite models, an old beggar named George White. Reynolds painted White frequently during the early 1770s in a number of different guises, including those of an apostle, a Renaissance pope, a bandit and as the central figure in his first major history painting, Count Ugolino and his Children in the Dungeon (National Trust, Knole, Kent), exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1773. White also became a popular character model for several of Reynolds's contemporaries, including Johan Zoffany (1733-1810), Benjamin West (1738-1820), John Hamilton Mortimer (1740-79) and the pastellist John Russell (1745-1806), who portrayed him as St. Peter. In addition to his private sittings to artists, White was also employed as a model at the Royal Academy Schools. Such was White's popularity that in the Royal Academy exhibition of 1772 the celebrated connoisseur, Horace Walpole (1717-97), counted no fewer than six different works based on him… (read more)

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