Camilla Murgia

From Academy to “Sloshua”: Joshua Reynolds’ Perception in the Victorian Era

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Studies in Visual Arts and Communication – an international journal / Dec 2015 2(2)


The present article explores the perception of the figure of Sir Joshua Reynolds during the Victorian era. Although Reynolds became, during his life-time, an extremely celebrated artist, his reputation encountered some criticism during the 19th century. Particular attention will be paid to the discussion of the British master as an anti-model for an entire artistic generation. Indeed, Pre-Raphaelites identified themselves with the works and doctrines of one of the greatest rivals Reynolds ever had: painter and poet William Blake. Such a rivalry is at the core of the perception of Reynolds’ work which is both artistic and theoretical as the master left a series of writings on art. This article will demonstrate how this negative comprehension is constructed and debated thanks to a number of texts, biographies and articles dedicated to both artists.

Keywords: Renyolds, Blake, Pre-Raphaelite movement, Rossetti, Ruskin, Art Theory, Art Criticism, Victorian age

Biographical note

Camilla Murgia
Professor of Visual Arts, EPSU (School for University Preparation and Support)
Geneva – Switzerland