Sir Joshua Reynolds

Master Crewe as Henry VIII


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On display at Tate Britain

Sir Joshua Reynolds 1723–1792
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1390 x 1110 mm
framed: 1585 x 1300 x 650 mm
Lent from a private collection 2009
On long term loan

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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’.

Gallery label, February 2016

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