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18th-century portraits of women and children often feature their sitters in costumes evocative of literary, mythological or historical figures. Such fancy-dress was meant to flatter the sitter, elaborate on some aspect of their character, or to provide amusement or provocation for viewers. Here, Reynolds represents the three-year old John Crewe (1772¿–¿1835) as Henry VIII. The influential connoisseur Horace Walpole praised the way Reynolds had reduced the ‘swaggering and colossal haughtiness’ of the original image to the ‘boyish jollity of Master Crewe’.