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The Cover
September 20, 2000

Lady Caroline Howard

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2000;284(11):1349. doi:10.1001/jama.284.11.1349

Two hundred years after his death, Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) is still considered to be England's single most important painter. A founding member and first president of the Royal Academy (1768-1790), he made painting a respectable profession, both socially and intellectually. His Discourses on Art established him as a man of letters. His large clientele comprised a virtual gallery of the aristocratic families and intelligentsia of his day. (The surgeon John Hunter was one of his subjects—one of the few, perhaps only, medical subjects Reynolds is known to have painted.) Among his close friends were Dr Samuel Johnson, David Garrick, and Oliver Goldsmith. (Boswell included Reynolds in his Life of Johnson.) Yet, Reynolds is not everyone's cup of tea, neither then nor now. Despite his success and influence, his merits as a painter continue to be debated. George III could not abide him (although he did, grudgingly, perhaps, make him Principal Painter to the King). In our own day, art historian John Canaday labels him "a first-rate second-rate artist," dismissing him as "an inflated mediocrity."

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