Hired to Depress: A Digital Scholarly Edition of William Blake's Annotations to Sir Joshua Reynolds' Discourses

Who is Sir Joshua Reynolds?

Reynolds, Sir Joshua
 (1723–1792), portrait and history painter and art theorist, was born on 16 July 1723 at Plympton, Devon, the seventh of the eleven children of Samuel Reynolds (1681–1745), schoolmaster, and his wife, Theophila Potter (1688–1756) of Great Torrington, Devon. Reynolds's maternal grandfather was Humphrey Potter, rector of Nymet Rowland and curate-in-charge of Lostwithiel, his great-grandfather being the eminent mathematician the Revd Thomas Baker. Samuel Reynolds's family also numbered several prominent clergymen. His father, John, had been vicar of St Thomas's, Exeter, and prebendary of Exeter. His uncle, also John, was a fellow of King's College, Cambridge, and Eton College, while another uncle, Joshua, was a fellow and bursar of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and rector of Stoke Charity, Hampshire. The young Joshua Reynolds was probably named after this uncle. Yet in the baptismal register of Plympton St Maurice, Reynolds's name was entered on 30 July 1723 as ‘Joseph son of Samul Reynolds Clerk’, the entry being amended only after his death. This may have been a simple clerical error, or perhaps Samuel Reynolds had a change of heart and renamed his seventh child.

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