Reynolds, the great portrait painter and President of the Royal Academy,
was born near Plymouth, Devon. Intended by his parents for the medical
profession, he showed an over-riding proclivity for art, and in 1740 he
went to London to pursue his art studies, becoming a pupil of Hudson,
a leading portraitist. Back in Devon in 1743, Reynolds set up as a portrait
painter himself, but returned to London in 1743. From 1749 to 1752 he
lived in Italy, where he studied the works of Michelangelo and Raphael.
After this period, his reputation growing, he established himself in London,
and was one of the first members of the Incorporated Society of Artists.
When the Royal Academy was set up in 1768, Reynolds was appointed its
first President. Hegave a famous series of fifteen Discourses for Academy
students, and exhibited some 245 works in the Academy Exhibitions.He was
appointed painter to the king in 1784, and spent his later years living
in Leicester Square where there is a small bust to commemorate him.
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