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Estelle M. Hurll

There was once on the throne of England a king named Henry VIII. He was a man of extraordinary character, with qualities both good and bad. His conduct was sometimes unscrupulous and tyrannical, and he let nothing interfere with his own pleasure. Nevertheless his reign brought many benefits to England, and his memory is respected by English people.

THE original biographical material on the subject of Reynolds was supplied by his own contemporaries. His friend Malone wrote a valuable Memoir (1804), and his pupil Northcote furnished the first biography of the painter, the Life of Reynolds in two volumes published in 1813. A half century later (1865) was published the most comprehensive work on Reynolds in two large volumes by C. R. Leslie and T. Taylor. At about the same time (1866) appeared a book by F. G. Stephens, "English Children as painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds."

A pretty story is told of a Roman matron named Cornelia, who was one day entertaining a visitor, when the conversation led to the subject of jewels. "These are my jewels," said the hostess, and turned to show the stranger her beautiful children. The story comes readily to mind as one looks at this portrait of Lady Cockburn and her Children. Indeed, the picture was once engraved[7] under the fanciful title of "Cornelia and her Children." Like the Roman matron of old, the English mother gathers her children about her as the choicest jewels of her possession.

Portrait frontispiece. Painted in 1776 for the Imperial Academy in Florence, and now in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

1. Penelope Boothby. Painted in July, 1788. In the possession of Mrs. Thwaites.

A little girl and her dog are playing together in a wooded park. The place is a fine playground, with its soft, grassy carpet, and noble old trees. It is the sort of park which adjoins country houses of wealthy old English families, where years of training have brought to perfection the trees planted by previous generations. Here and there, through spaces among the branches, shafts of sunlight illumine the shady spot.

1723. Reynolds born at Plympton, Devonshire, England, July 16.

1741-1743. Apprenticeship with the painter Thomas Hudson, London.

1743-1746. Residence in Devonshire.

1746. Portrait of Captain Hamilton first to attract attention.

Death of Reynolds's father.

1746-1749. Residence in Plymouth Docks.

1749-1752. Voyage in Centurion with Commodore Keppel; studies in Italy; and return, via Paris, to London.

1752. Establishment of Reynolds in London as a portrait painter, with apartments in St. Martin's Lane, Leicester Fields.

By a pleasant coincidence the year 1768 brought to Reynolds's studio for portrait sittings two young people who began an acquaintance at this time which had a romantic ending. They were Miss Catherine Horneck and Henry William Bunbury, who were married a few years later, and were the parents of the little boy in our picture.

The name of Mrs. Siddons is one of the most distinguished in the history of English dramatic art. For thirty years she was unsurpassed in her impersonation of the tragic heroines of Shakespeare. Her first great success was in the season of 1782, when she appeared for the second time on the London stage. She was then about twenty-seven years of age, and had devoted years of arduous study to her profession. Though gifted by nature with strong dramatic instincts inherited from generations of players, her powers developed slowly.

  • Thomas Hudson (1701-1779).
  • Richard Wilson (1714-1782).
  • John Opie (1761-1807).
  • George Romney (1734-1802).
  • Allan Ramsay (1713-1784).
  • Thomas Gainesborough (1727-1788).
  • Sir William Beechey (1753-1839).
  • James Barry (1741-1806).
  • Francis Cotes (1725-1770).
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