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Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-92)

Self-portrait circa 1788

Oil on panel | 75.1 x 63.4 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 400699

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This is Reynolds’s penultimate self-portrait and the only one in which he shows himself wearing spectacles. Those shown here are ‘wig spectacles’ designed with long arms to wrap around the sitter’s wigged head. Even in his later years, Reynolds continued to experiment with his compositions and his technique. The cracked and blistered appearance of the paint surface in this self-portrait is due to the artist's increasingly unorthodox use of materials.