BP Spotlight: Joshua Reynolds, The Age of Innocence
Tate Britain: Display
5 October 201328 March 2014

This popular image of childhood is on display at Tate Britain for the first time in several decades after cleaning and restoration

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  • Sir Joshua Reynolds, 'The Age of Innocence' ?1788
    Sir Joshua Reynolds
    The Age of Innocence ?1788
    Oil on canvas
    support: 765 x 638 mm
    Presented by Robert Vernon 1847
  • Sir Joshua Reynolds, The Age of Innocence ?1788, now restored
    Sir Joshua Reynolds, The Age of Innocence ?1788
    Oil paint on canvas
    Support: 765 x 638 mm

This display celebrates the cleaning and restoration of The Age of Innocence by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723–1792). This work was carried out by Rica Jones in Tate’s Conservation Department, while the recipient of a fellowship from The Clothworkers’ Company.

The painting was made in the 1780s. Although always much admired, by 2011 it had not been on display for decades on account of its poor condition. It was obscured by many coats of old varnish and dirt, and the paint was badly cracked and flaking.

During the process of conservation, many discoveries were made about the painting. This display explores these in the following sections:

  • The painting and its technical examination
  • Cleaning 2011–12
  • Versions and copies
  • Prints after the painting and their significance
  • Ephemera inspired by the painting

This display has been curated by Rica Jones, with assistance from Greg Sullivan and Ruth Kenny.