Sir Joshua Reynolds Self-Portrait as a Deaf Man c.1775

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Artwork details

Artist
Title
Self-Portrait as a Deaf Man
Date c.1775
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 749 x 622 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Bequeathed by Miss Emily Drummond 1930
Reference
N04505
Not on display

Display caption

Creating self-portraits in character or pulling a face was a traditional form of student exercise. But this image was created when the painter was the most famous artist of the age. Instead of an experiment, it seems to be a more considered statement.

Reynolds may have focused on his own struggle to hear (he went deaf in later years) as a way of expressing the artist’s struggle to create an image from his raw materials. In his lectures on art, delivered at the Royal Academy, Reynolds stressed the arduous, and thus morally uplifting, nature of art.

August 2004

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