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Sir Joshua Reynolds - The Duke of Gloucester (text)

Collection: Gray's School of Art Collection
Object Type: Print
Artist/Maker: unknown
Place Made: unknown
Date: c. 1850
Media/Materials: ink on paper
Dimensions: overall: 51 cm x 37.5 cm


Frontispiece text to ABDRG2019.2.15.1

Text reads:
Sir Joshua Reynolds - The Duke of Gloucester (Trinity College, Cambridge)
prince William Frederick, second Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, was born in 1776. He was the son of William Henry (third son of Frederick Lewis, Prince of Wales), Duke of Gloucester. He married his cousin, Princess Mary, daughter of George III. The Duchess bequeathed this picture to Trinity College, "to be hung in the room in which she had been so hospitably entertained." From Reynolds' ledger we learn that the painting was done in 1780. The boy was then four years old. No doubt a properly constituted royal boy ought to hold himself thus nobly, but as a fact royal children do not so fill the parts for which they may be supposed to have been cast in the drama of public life. It is morally certain that this child of four behaved like other children of his age. If Frans Hals had painted him he would have manifested whatever the urchin he could find in his composition. Reynolds, as his habit was, looked dfor distinction in persons of noble birth, and Vandyck had taught him how to look. It is obvious enough that, if Vandyck had not shown the way, this picture would not have existed; yet Vandyck never painted so delightful a child. Reynolds had the faculty of making his children sitters act parts with fascinating naivete. He dresses them up in character, but never fails to retain their proper childishness. What we have here is a boy playing the part of a Vandyck nobleman, and playing it to perfection. But we see that is it a part. The painter lifts him high on a mound and thus gives dignity to the little figure, besides posing him in a graceful attitude that is yet infused with childishness. The reproduction makes a beautiful print, notwithstanding the fact that the principal charm of the picture is in its lovely colour, with a bewitching play of mauves and violets in the drapery. Of all Reynolds' delightful pictures of children this is perhaps the best. Though so well suited to attain a wide popularity, it has seldom been engraved.

Object Number: ABDRG2019.2.15