Sir Joshua Reynolds P.R.A.
- Sir Joshua Reynolds P.R.A.
- portrait of a Naval Officer
- bears inscription on the stretcher: Lieutenant St Leonard (?) R.N. painted by his school fellow and friend Sir Joshua Reynolds
- oil on canvas, held in a William Kent frame
- 123.5 by 100 cm., 46½ by 39½ in.
with Spinks, London, by 1952;
Sir Ian Horobin;
His sale Sotheby's London, 14th March 1962, lot 174 (bt. Ross Wilson);
from whom acquired by the present owner
W. Cotton, Sir Joshua Reynolds and his Works. Gleanings from his diary, unpublished manuscripts and from other sources, 1856, p. 58;
E.K. Waterhouse, "Additions to the list of pre Italian portraits by Reynolds", Minneapolis Institute of Arts Bulletin, 1968, p. 167;
D. Mannings and M. Postle, Sir Joshua Reynolds: A Complete Catalogue of his Paintings, 2000, vol. I p. 130, no.354, vol. II, fig. 42
The sitter's identity has long been the object of some confusion. It was first suggested as 'Captain Chaundy' by Cotton on the basis that a 'Captain Chaundy' was recorded on board HMS Ripon at the taking of Guadaloupe in 1759 (though he could have been in the Royal Artillary) and a pair of portraits by Reynolds of a 'Captain Chaundy and his wife,' painted in 1744 were recorded in the collection of a 'Mrs. Duins' of Plymouth in 1856. Mannings then lists this portrait as 'not identified' and suggests that a previous inscription which identifies the sitter as 'Schomberg' is no longer visible and dates this portrait to c. 1747/9.
Despite the discrepancy regarding the sitter, stylistically this portrait appears less confident than the comparable Portrait of Richard, 2nd Lord Edgcumbe dated c.1740 (destroyed, see D. Mannings, lit.op.cit., p. 176, no. 559, fig.5). It might therefore be suggested that this is a rare and important surviving example of Reynolds' earliest endeavours into the art of portrait painting whilst still living in Plympton. At this time in a letter dated 1740 Reynolds' father wrote to a friend that 'Joshua has a very great genius for drawing, and lately, on his own head, has begun even painting.' Shortly afterwards the seventeen year old Reynolds was sent to be an apprentice to Thomas Hudson in London.