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equally numerous; for all that knew him were his friends.
“ When he was appointed keeper of the Royal Academy, his conduct was exemplary, and worthy to be imitated by whoever shall succeed him in that office. As he loved the employment of teaching, he could not fail of discharging that duty with diligence. By the propriety of his conduct he united the love and respect of the students; he kept in order the academy, and made himself respected, without the 'austerity or importance of office; all noise and tumult immediately ceased on his appearance; at the same time, there was nothing forbidding in his manner, which might restrain his pupils from freely applying to him for advice or assistance. All this excellence had a firm foundation : he was a man of sincere and ardent piety, and has left an illustrious example of the exactness with which the subordinate duties may be expected to be discharged by him whose first care is to please God. He has left one daughter behind him, who has distinguished herself by the admirable manner in which she paints and composes pieces of flowers, of which many samples have been seen in the exhibitions. She has had the honour of being much employed in this way by their Majesties, and for her extraordinary merit has been received into the Royal Academy."
In the summer of this year Sir Joshua made another trip to the Continent, to examine the pictures which, by the suppression of some of the monasteries in the Netherlands, were about to be exposed to sale. His principal attention at Antwerp and Brussels was directed to the works of Rubens, on viewing which, this second time, they appeared, as he said, much less brilliant than on the former inspection. He was at a loss to account for this circumstance, till, on recollecting that when he first saw them he had his note book in his hand for the purpose of writing down his remarks, he perceived what had occasioned their now making a less impression in this respect than they had formerly done. As by the transition of the eye from the white paper to the picture, the colours derived uncommon richness and warmth ; so, for want of that foil, they afterwards appeared cold. It was observable, that on his return from Flanders, the portraits which he painted till his secession from práctice, possessed more animation, force, and brilliancy than any of his former works, which was accounted for by his admiration of the performances of Rubens ; some of the best of which, with pictures by other masters, he added to his gallery when the sale took place in 1785.
He now again appeared before the public as an author, or commentator, in professional notes
appended to his friend Mason's translation of Du Fresnoy's Poem on the Art of Painting.
On the death of Mr. Allan Ramsay, in 1784, Sir Joshua was sworn as principal painter in ordinary to the King, and on St. Luke's day, the same year, he was entertained at the Hall of the Painter-Stainers' Company, having been presented with the freedom thereof, at the desire of Mr. Charles Catton, who was a member of the Royal Academy. Soon after this Sir Joshua sustained a great loss in the death of his old friend, Dr. Samuel Johnson, who appointed him one of the executors of his last will, and bequeathed to him, as memorials of his affectionate regard, the great French Dictionary of Moreri, and the revised copy of his own folio Dictionary of the English Language. Some months previous to the Doctor's dissolution, Sir Joshua took an active part in endeavouring to procure an increase of his pension, that he might be enabled to proceed to the South of France and Italy, for the re-establishment of his health ; but the design failed, and indeed considering the age of the invalid, and the broken state of his constitution, by a complication of disorders, the basis of which was hydropic, the wonder is how an idea of restoring him to health by any means could ever have been entertained. The zeal shown by his friends on this occasion, however, did them great honour, and evinced the high estimation in which that extraordinary man was held by those who had the best opportunities of judging of his worth. · In 1786, Sir Joshua Reynolds received a commission from the Empress Catherine of Russia, to paint for her an historical picture, the subject, size, and price of which were all left to himself. Thus set at full liberty, he found a difficulty in coming to a determination; and we are told by one who ought to know, that he first thought of taking the story of Queen Elizabeth at the Camp of Tilbury for his subject, but, that upon farther consideration he relinquished it for something emblematical of the great princess by whom he was employed. He therefore chose the Infant Hercules strangling the Serpents in the Cradle, as an appropriate figure of the great task which the empress had undergone in the civilisation of her mighty empire, and of the obstacles she had to surmount in the accomplishment of so arduous an enterprise. This grand composition he executed in his very best manner, and it may safely stand in competition with any historical painting that has appeared since the days of Rubens. In this picture is introduced the blind prophet Tiresias, which Sir Joshua used to say he intended as a representation of his deceased friend Johnson, whom he had often contemplated in that attitude.
English, and the other in French, in 1789; and early in the following year, the Russian Ambassador, Count Woronzow, waited upon Sir Joshua, and delivered to him a gold box, having the portrait of the Empress on the lid, set with large diamonds. This present was accompanied by the following letter, in the hand-writing of the Empress :
“ I have read, and, I may say, with the greatest avidity, those Discourses pronounced at the Royal Academy of London, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, which that illustrious artist sent me with his large picture ; in both productions one may easily trace a most elevated genius. I recommend to you to give my thanks to Sir Joshua, and to remit him the box I send, as a testimony of the great satisfaction the perusal of his Discourses has given me; and which I look upon as, perhaps, the best work that was ever written upon the subject. My portrait, which is on the cover of the box, is of a composition made at my Hermitage, where they are now at work about impressions on the stones found there. I expect you will inform me of the price of the large picture, on the subject of which I have already spoke to you in another letter.”
The portrait here mentioned was a basso-relievo of her Majesty, and the executors of Sir Joshua afterwards received fifteen hundred guineas for the