Case Study

Sir Joshua Reynolds:

Original, Copy, or Studio Version

"Boy with a Drawing in his Hand"
Before Treatment

Catalogue Entry
The two-volume catalogue raisonné Sir Joshua Reynolds: A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings was published in 2000. David Mannings catalogued the portraits and Martin Postle researched and catalogued the subject and fancy pictures. Postle's entry for "Boy with a Drawing in his Hand" details the painting's provenancial information as well as ownership gaps in its history.(38) This information is reviewed below.


The Duke of Dorset
The painting was purchased initially by John Frederick Sackville, the 3rd Duke of Dorset, in August of 1776 for £52 10s. Reynolds's ledger states: "Do., [Duke of Dorset] for the 'Boy with a Drawing in his Hand.'"(39) This is corroborated in Edmond Malone's 1798 publication, The Literary Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds. The entry is pictured to the right.(40) Malone states incorrectly that the purchase price was £50. He uses Reynolds's sitter-book title and lists a total of seven paintings purchased by the Duke including "A Gipsey telling fortunes" ("The Fortune Teller") and "Beggar Children" ("A Beggar Boy and his Sister").

1798 Malone Entry
In their 1899-1901 publication, A History of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, Algernon Graves and William Vine Cronin list two separate paintings. The "Boy with a drawing in his hand" is listed in the Unknown Portrait section, while "The Student" is recorded in the Historical, Mythological & Fancy Subject section.(41) Their first entry, without description or measurements, is pictured below. The entry documents the Duke of Dorset as the initial owner and the proper sale figure of £52 10s.

1899-1901 Graves and Cronin Entry
"Boy with a drawing in his hand"

The second entry, with description and measurements, states the painting was loaned to the British Institution in 1817, catalogue entry 110. The lender was the Duke of Dorset. However, John Frederick Sackville, the 3rd Duke of Dorset, died in 1799, therefore the painting was loaned by Charles Sackville-Germaine, the 5th Duke of Dorset (1767-1843). Graves refers to the sitter as "a portrait of Master Brown," son of the artist Mather Brown (1761-1831), an assertion Postle correctly refutes when he states, "This identification must, however, be incorrect as Brown did not arrive in England until 1787."(42) The title given the painting in this second entry has carried through to the present day.

1899-1901 Graves and Cronin Entry
"The Student"


Earl Delawarr
Graves and Cronin record Earl Delawarr loaned the painting to a British Institution exhibit in 1840, catalogue entry 122.(43) While there is no record of how or when the painting passed from the Duke's estate to Delawarr, the transfer occurred sometime after 1817 and before 1840. Delawarr loaned the "Boy with Cabbage Nets" ("A Beggar Boy and his Sister") to the same exhibit, catalogue entry 117. This painting was also purchased originally by the 3rd Duke of Dorset and, along with other items, eventually passed to Delawarr.


A. Wertheimer
Thomas Agnew & Sons
J. Pierpont Morgan
H.O. Havermeyer

On July 17, 1894, Thomas Agnew & Sons Gallery and Auction House purchased the painting from an A. Wertheimer. There is no record of how or when the painting passed from Delawarr to Wertheimer. For the sale, the painting carried the title "The Student." On April 24, 1895, Agnew's sold the painting to J. Pierpont Morgan, who, for some reason, immediately resold the piece through Agnew's to H. O. Havermeyer in June of that year.


T. Mott
Charles Stewart Harding Mott
In 1896, the painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy, catalogue entry 38. Graves and Cronin may have used the Royal Academy entry to record their dimensions, the lender "T. Mott," and the sitter "Master Brown."(44) This represents the third gap in the painting's ownership, for there is no record of how or when the piece passed from Havermeyer to Mott. The painting descended through the Mott family to Charles Stewart Harding Mott.

1896 Royal Academy Catalogue Entry


The Flint Institute of Arts
The painting was gifted to the Flint Institute of Arts by Mott's widow, Mrs. Harding S. Mott, on September 22, 1993, accession number 93.10. Correspondence between the two parties lists two titles, "The Student" and "The Young Scholar."(45) There is some confusion concerning the identity of the original Mott owner. Genealogical records of the Mott family produce no period individual with a first name beginning with the letter "T."(46) It is possible Graves and Cronin listed the initial incorrectly, or the Royal Academy loan records, from which they obtained the information was incorrect. Consequently, the original Mott owner is unknown today.(47)

  1909 Royal Glasgow Institute Exhibit
E. K. Waterhouse records that the painting was exhibited in 1909. A letter, dated January 6, 1993, from Duncan Robinson, director of the Yale Center for British Art, to John Mahey, director of the Flint Institute of Arts, states, "According to a note made by the late Reynolds scholar, Ellis Waterhouse, in his copy of Graves & Cronin, a version of the picture was exhibited at the Glasgow Institute in 1904 (no. 57), lent by J. A. Holmes of Glasgow."(48) There are two discrepancies here from the Postle catalogue entry. Postle's exhibition date is listed as 1909, not 1904, and the lender is listed as J. A. Holme, not J. A. Holmes.
In 1992, Roger Billcliffe published A Dictionary of Exhibitors at the Annual Exhibitions of the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts. The Reynolds entries, imaged below, list "The Student" in the 1909 exhibit, catalogue entry 57. Billcliffe records that the painting was loaned by "J. A. Holms (the late)," not Holme or Holmes.(49) The painting is pictured, without dimensions, in the 1909 Royal Glasgow Institute's illustrated catalogue as Plate 74.(50) The catalogue image is also pictured below.

Reynolds Entries
Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts Annual Exhibitions


1909 Royal Glasgow Institute Catalogue Illustration
74. "The Student"--Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A.

This information led Postle to speculate that there are two versions of the painting: the Flint Institute version owned by the Motts from 1896 to 1993, and another owned by J. A. Holms in 1909, now untraced.(51) As previously reviewed, Graves and Cronin listed the painting in two separate sections, which offers further support for two paintings.

The Engravings
Engravings were often made after Reynolds's paintings. This provided income for the artist and also served to disseminate his work to a wider audience. Postle documents that two engravings were made after the treated painting.(52) He records: "Engraved: J. R. Smith, published 1 Sept. 1777; S.W. Reynolds." While John Raphael Smith (1752-1812) did publish a mezzotint of the image, it was not published "1 Sept. 1777" but rather "1st October 1777."(53) The author was able to purchase the Smith engraving through Grosvenor Print Gallery in London.(54) An image of the H. 13 1/2" x W. 11" mezzotint and inscription details are pictured below. The print contains the following information: The Student. Painted by S.r Jos.a Reynolds. Engraved by J.R. Smith. Publishd 1st October 1777 by W.m Humphrey, Gerrard Street & J. R. Smith, No. 10 Bateman's Buildings Soho London.

J.R. Smith "The Student" 1777
H. 13 1/2" x W. 11"

The Student

Painted by S.r Jos.a Reynolds

Engraved by J.R. Smith

Samuel William Reynolds (1773-1895), of no relation to Joshua, completed a much smaller engraving, H. 3 7/8" x W. 3 1/8", in 1835. He is listed in Postle's entry as "S. W. Reynolds" and was actually a former student of J. R. Smith. An image of his piece is pictured below.(55) The print contains the following: The Student. Sir Joshua Reynolds. S.W. Reynolds. In the collection of the Earl of Warwick. London 1835 Hodgson & Graves. 6 Pall Mall.(56)

S.W. Reynolds "The Student" 1835
H. 3
7/8" x W. 3 1/8"
The Smith image is by far the better rendition. He must have had approval from Reynolds for its publication and certainly would have had the painting to work from. Smith must also have obtained Reynolds's consent to title the image, "The Student," a title the painting has been associated with to the present day. It is possible S. W. Reynolds saw the painting when it was exhibited at the British Institution in 1817, although it is more likely he rendered his version after the Smith engraving.
(38) Mannings, D. Catalogue entry #2027. All provenancial information for the "Boy with a Drawing in his Hand" is from this source except where otherwise noted.
(39) Postle quotes from Cormack, Malcomb. The Ledgers of Sir Joshua Reynolds. Walpole Society. 1970. p.150.
(40) Malone, Edmond. The Literary Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds. London. 1798. p.lxii.
(41) Graves, Algernon and Cronin, William Vine. A History of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds. 1899-1901. London. "Boy with a Drawing in his hand" is listed in Vol. III, p.1116, while "The Student" is listed in Vol. III, p.1216.
(42) Mannings, D. Catalogue entry #2027.
(43) The author hired Ms. Robyne Miles, an Art History graduate student at the University of Glasgow, to research the catalogue entries. In an e-mail dated 9/22/07, she stated: "I checked the two British Institution catalogues, and neither of them listed the Reynolds paintings. In fact, I looked through both, and there were no Reynolds paintings exhibited at all." It is unknown where Graves and Cronin obtained their information.
(44) The current frame contained the label below. It is possible the frame and label date to the 1896 exhibit and the sitter's mis-identification was obtained from this source.

Frame Label
(45) 1993 correspondence provided through the Flint Institute of Arts.
(46) Recorded in January 12, 1993, letter from Flint Institute director John Mahey to Duncan Robinson, director of the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut.
(47) Agnew's does not record the sale of the painting to a T. Mott. A letter, dated January 27, 1993, from Richard Kingett at Agnew's to John Mahey, director of the Flint Institute, states, "I have been through our records for the years from 1840-1896, but cannot find that we bought any picture by Reynolds from Lord Sackville, or sold any picture to Mr. T. Mott. These records are pretty reliable, and I think, therefore, that Graves & Cronin must somehow have got hold of some wrong information."
(48) 1993 correspondence provided through the Flint Institute of Arts.
(49) Billcliffe, Roger. The Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts 1861-1989. A Dictionary of Exhibitors at the Annual Exhibitions of the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts. Vol. 4. 1992. Woodend Press, Glasgow. p.31.
(50) Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts Annual Exhibit Catalogue. Glasgow. 1909. Plate 74. Page 25 lists the lender as "J. A. Holms."
(51) "Untraced" is a catalogue term for "whereabouts unknown."
(52) Mannings, D. Catalogue entry #2027.
(53) Frankau, Julia. John Raphael Smith 1752-1812. G. W. Hissink & Co. Amsterdam. 1975. p.224. Frankau notes there were five states of the engraving. Postle's entry is also incorrect on the engraving of "Boy Reading" (#2026). He states the painting was engraved by J. R. Smith and published "1 Oct. 1777 as 'The Student.'" J. R. Smith never published an image of " Boy Reading" (Julia Frankau. John Raphael Smith 1752-1812.) and the cited date and title are for "Boy with a Drawing in his Hand," not "Boy Reading." Edward Hamilton, in his A Catalogue Raisonné of the Engraved Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds. P.R.A. from 1755-1820 London, records that "Boy Reading " was engraved by G. Keating (George Keating, 1762-1842) on Sept. 30, 1784, as "The Studious Boy," H. 8 5/8" x W. 7 5/8".
(54) Purchase date, May 29, 2007.
(55) Reynolds, S. W. Engravings from the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds. Between 1820 and 1830. London. Vol. II. Plate 24.
(56) The Earl of Warwick is in no other provenancial records and may be an error. The lender to the 1840 British Institution exhibit was Earl Delawarr. These individuals are not the same person. It is possible that the Earl of Warwick sold the painting to Earl Delawarr between 1835 and 1840, although no records have been found to substantiate this. It is more likely S. W. Reynolds did his engraving after the Smith engraving, and it was the Smith engraving that was in the collection of the Earl of Warwick, not the painting.


Table of Contents, Biography, Reynolds's Fancy Pictures, "The Net Boy," Catalogue Entry, Examination


Barry Bauman Conservation
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