Cast of a bust of Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A., ca. 1778
RA Collection: Art
On free display in Central Hall
This plaster cast is taken from a bust of Sir Joshua Reynolds by the Italian artist Giuseppe Ceracchi (1751-1801) who lived in London during the 1770s. Specifically the cast is believed to have been made from Ceracchi’s original terracotta model, which formerly belonged to the Royal Academy although its present whereabouts is unknown. The RA also possesses Ceracchi’s marble bust of Reynolds (c.1778-9), although given the differences between the pinned cloak of the marble and this cast, it is unlikely the marble was the source.
The bust manifests Reynolds’ own ideas about sculpture, which he expressed in his 1780 Discourse to the Royal Academy. Reynolds rejected the naturalism of sculptors who utilised contemporary costume and lifelike detail, preferring the classicism of sculptors such as Ceracchi and his former employer Agostino Carlini. Ceracchi has based the portrait on Roman busts of Emperor Caracalla, presenting Reynolds as someone who not only practices, but also thinks deeply about art.
This cast is one of eight busts of artists and architects installed in the 'Octagon' in the Main Galleries at Burlington House when the RA moved there in 1868.
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