I am not a fan of Joshua Reynolds. He may have been president of the Royal Academy but his paintings have never left much of an impression on me. Last weekend, I was invited to a bloggers event at the Wallace Collection that was held to support its incumbent exhibition on Joshua Reynolds, and, while I do not really love Reynolds, i do love the Wallace Collection, so I decided to go along and see if they could change my opinion of Reynolds.
The exhibition at the Wallace collection is divided into two rooms and comprises of 11 of the 12 paintings by Reynolds already in the collection as well as loans from other galleries. Of these images are the portraits by Reynolds of the Hertford family who founded the Wallace Collection.
The bloggers event centred on a talk about the work by one of the exhibition’s curators, Alexandra Gent. What Gent made clear is that an enormous amount of work went into the exhibition, which illustrates Reynold’s painting process and gives the gallery-goer an insight into this through the presentation of X-Ray’s and infra-red images. Through these images we can see the artist’s thought processes, where he decided to paint over work and how he came to use strange materials like beeswax instead of varnish.
While I can’t say that the evening changed my mind of Reynolds as artist, I was very impressed by the exhibition, especially as I am particularly fond of shows that allow the viewer to step inside the painters studio and learn about exactly how artists approach the canvas. Regardless of if you are a fan of Reynolds or not, the Wallace Collection is a treasure chest that needs to be discovered, and as it is free to enter and just behind Selfridges, you really have no excuse not to!
Joshua Reynolds: Experiments in Paint is on display at Wallace Collection until 7 June