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Philip Reinagle RA (1749 - 1833)

RA Collection: People and Organisations

Reinagle was born and raised in Edinburgh, the son of a Hungarian musician and his wife. At the age of fourteen, he was sent to London as an apprentice to the Scottish painter Allan Ramsay, who was Painter in Ordinary to King George III from 1761. Reinagle also enrolled at the newly-established Royal Academy Schools in 1769. He continued to make copies of royal portraits for Ramsay, and was soon heading up several assistants within the portraitist’s studio. This steady income was important to support Reinagle’s ever-growing family; he married Jane Austin in 1771 and the couple went on to have 11 children together. Four daughters and both his sons went on to become artists, encouraged in drawing by their father.

In his own practice, Reinagle excelled mainly in sporting pictures, with birds and animals becoming a speciality. His paintings were highly regarded and were reproduced in William Taplin’s Sportsman’s Cabinet (1803) and in the botanical author Robert John Thornton’s Philosophy of Botany (1809) among many others. On the merit of his animal and sporting pictures, Reinagle was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1787 and became a full Member in 1812.

Despite his success and high regard among fellow artists, Reinagle struggled to earn enough to provide for his many children, and had to rely upon a grant from the Royal Academy which he applied for in 1798. Alongside his personal artistic output, he also worked as a restorer of paintings and made copies of old masters. Financial pressures arguably limited his own artistic development and success, although he was respected by his peers.

Reinagle died in 1833 in his home in London.

RA Collections Decolonial Research Project - Extended Biography

Reinagle’s brother Alexander (1756-1809) emigrated to America in 1786, settling in Philadelphia and becoming a prominent composer and musical figure in the newly independent United States (see Note 1).


  1. Krauss, Anne McClenny. “Alexander Reinagle, His Family Background and Early Professional Career.” American Music 4, no. 4 (1986): 425–56. https://doi.org/10.2307/3052229. Accessed 3 May 2022

Relevant ODNB Entries

Corley, T. A. B. “Reinagle, Philip (1748–1833), painter.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 23 Sep. 2004; Accessed 18 May. 2022. https://www-oxforddnb-com.lonlib.idm.oclc.org/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-23352


Royal Academician

Born: 1749 in Edinburgh?, Scotland, United Kingdom

Died: 27 November 1833

Nationality: British

RA Schools student from 28 February 1769

Elected ARA: 3 December 1787

Elected RA: 10 February 1812

Gender: Male

Preferred media: Painting

Works by Philip Reinagle in the RA Collection

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Works after Philip Reinagle in the RA Collection

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Works associated with Philip Reinagle in the RA Collection

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Associated books

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Associated archives

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