Sir Joshua Reynolds (16 July 1723 – 23 February 1792) was an English painter, specialising in portraits. John Russell said he was one of the major European painters of the 18th century. He promoted the “Grand Style” in painting which depended on idealization of the imperfect. He was a founder and first president of the Royal Academy of Arts, and was knighted by George III in 1769.
Reynolds was one of the earliest members of the Royal Society of Arts, helped found the Society of Artists of Great Britain, and in 1768 became the first president of the Royal Academy of Arts, a position he was to hold until his death. In 1769, he was knighted by George III, only the second artist to be so honoured. His Discourses, a series of lectures delivered at the academy between 1769 and 1790, are remembered for their sensitivity and perception. In one lecture he expressed the opinion that “invention, strictly speaking, is little more than a new combination of those images which have been previously gathered and deposited in the memory.” William Jackson in his contemporary essays said of Reynolds ‘there is much ingenuity and originality in all his academic discourses, replete with classical knowledge of his art, acute remarks on the works of others, and general taste and discernment’.