Sir Joshua and the Tumbling Walls

Dalrymple finds great wisdom in the book Portraits by the 18th Century painter Sir Joshua Reynolds, in its honest descriptions of the subjects of his famous portraits:

Reynolds shows that it was no accident that his portraits penetrated the character as well as they represented the physical appearance of his sitters. The book contains three character sketches in words of three of the great men of his time, Oliver Goldsmith, Doctor Johnson and David Garrick. These character sketches were not intended for publication, that of Doctor Johnson having been for the private use of James Boswell in writing his great Life; but though never revised, they are still worth reading because Reynolds had caught the habit of writing and thinking well from Johnson himself, at whose feet he had sat…

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