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Colonel Charles ChurchillEnlarge image

Colonel Charles Churchill, c. 1755

Joshua Reynolds
British, 1723 - 1792
oil on canvas
120.7 x 96.5 cm
Purchased 1909
National Gallery of Canada (no. 29)

After a ten-year career in the army, retiring as lieutenant-colonel of the Foot Guards, Charles Churchill (1720-1812) went into politics, serving as a Member of Parliament from 1745 to 1761. He married the daughter of Prime Minister Robert Walpole. His ghostly face is the result of the artist’s experimentation with pigments, in this case, with the fugitive colour carmine over lead white to create flesh tones. It was an open secret that Reynolds’s colours were often unstable, but as one admirer quipped: “Even a faded picture by Reynolds will be the finest thing you can have.” Joshua Reynolds became the first president of the Royal Academy in 1768. Frame: carved wood, gilded. Britain, first half 18th century, after a French model

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