Sir Joshua Reynolds

Three Ladies Adorning a Term of Hymen

1773

On display at Tate Britain

Artist
Sir Joshua Reynolds 1723–1792
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 2337 x 2908 mm
frame: 2902 x 3382 x 180 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Bequeathed by the Earl of Blessington 1837
Reference
N00079

Display caption

The foundation of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1768 gave British artists a new professional status and the means to distinguish themselves from their artisan colleagues. Reynolds was the Academy’s first president. He developed the ‘Grand Manner’ style which aimed to elevate portraiture to the level of high art. In this portrait, the aristocratic Montgomery sisters pay homage to the Greek god of marriage. Their poses are taken directly from the work of admired old master painters, which lend them a certain dignity but also laid Reynolds open to charges of plagiarism.

Gallery label, February 2016