Innovative Reproduction: Painters and Engravers at the Royal Academy of Arts
At least where the self-conscious pictorial representation of their own social standing was at stake, even British architects, sculptors, and painters from the mid-eighteenth century onwards had finally secured for themselves and for their professions an elevated position among the artes liberales. In the young Joshua Reynolds’s self-portrait, dating from the late 1740s, the painter’s gaze is no longer that of a humble artisan, but is directed from his easel towards the sphere of his respectable and well-established patrons.2 Clothed in an elegant frock coat, the painter has charged his own facial expression with his social ambition. It seems telling that Reynolds never again chose to picture himself with the tools of his trade.
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