The Discourses Of Sir Joshua Reynolds; Illustrated By Explanatory Notes & Plates By John Burnet, F.R.S.

Sir Joshua Reynolds PRA

RA Collection: Book

Record number




London.: James Carpenter, Old Bond St., 1842.

Physical Description

[2], iv, [2], 279, [1] p., [11] pl.: [1] illus. (t.p. vignette); 275 mm. (Quarto.)

General Note

The plates carry no numbers, but are assigned nos. I - XII in the List Of Plates (incl. title page vignette). Each carries the number of the page next to which it is to be bound.


[T.p., dedic.] - Contents - List Of Plates - [Text, and plates]; [colophon].

Responsibility Note

One plate is signed as drawn by Percy Carpenter. The rest are unsigned, but all are captioned with the name of the source artist (apart from those of which the source artist is uncertain).

Most carry the publisher's imprint of J. Carpenter and the date (1842): its absence on other plates is probably the result of cropping during binding.

The printer is named in the colophon: 'C. Whittingham, Tooks Court, Chancery Lane.'

The work is dedicated by John Burnet to Stephen Poyntz Denning.


J. Reynolds, Discourses on art, ed. P. Rogers (2000); J. Barrell, The political theory of painting from Reynolds to Hazlitt (1986); W.J. Hipple, 'General and particular in the Discourses of Sir Joshua Reynolds', in Journal Aesth. and Art Crit., 11 (1953), p.231-47 (rev. in The beautiful, the sublime and the picturesque in 18th-century British aesthetic theory, 1957).

Summary Note

Reynolds's first Discourse was delivered at the opening of the Academy on 2 January 1769; the remainder were delivered in December at the Academy's awards of prizes to students - numbers II-V annually (1769-1772), numbers VI-XV every two years (1774-1790) with the exception of number IX, delivered in October 1780 to mark the Academy's move into Somerset House.

In this edition the plates show works by Raffaelle, Michael Angelo, Le Brun, Paul Veronese, Titian, Parmigiano, Pellegrino Tibaldi, the Belvedere Torso and an ancient Greek bas-relief (title-page vignette).


27 October 1843: 'Resolved that the following Works be procured for the Library when convenient, viz . ...Burnet's new Edition of Reynolds' Discourses' (RA Council Minutes, IX, 334).

Binding Note

19th-century half calf, marbled-papered boards; rebacked in 20th century, retaining earlier spine-piece lettered 'Discourses Of Sir J. Reynolds John Burnet', 'R.A.' and '1842'.


Art - Painting - Theory
Student competitions - Students - Great Britain - London - 18th century
Speeches - Lectures - Great Britain - London - 18th century
Pictorial works - Great Britain - 19th century