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As well as being the most distinguished painter of his generation, Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723–92) was also the author of several works of art criticism and guides for artists, some of which originated as lectures delivered to the students of the Royal Academy by him as their founding president. This work, first published in 1778, collects six of the addresses given to the Academy on 'Prize Day', between 1769 and 1776, prefaced with the first address by Reynolds to his fellow artists of the newly founded institution in 1769. Each discourse was later printed and distributed to those present at Reynolds' expense. They present his views of the purpose of art, and in particular the necessity of intellectual dignity in what he calls the 'great style' of the Florentine Renaissance masters. The discourses also demonstrate his wide reading among the aesthetic theorists of his own and earlier ages.
This two-volume posthumous edition of the writings on art of Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723–92), one of the greatest of eighteenth-century artists and the first president of the Royal Academy, was published in 1797. It is prefaced by a short biography of Reynolds by his friend, the Shakespearean critic Edmond Malone (1741–1812), which includes a list of Reynolds' paintings with their sale prices, when known. Reynolds took his role as president and fellow of the Royal Academy very seriously, delivering fifteen 'discourses' to the fellows and students of the Academy, which are collected in Volume 1, along with three 'letters' on art criticism published in The Idler. This periodical's editor, Dr Johnson, was one of Reynolds' most intimate friends, and Reynolds was one of only three writers, in addition to himself, whom Johnson published in it. These essays provide a fascinating insight into the intellectual basis of Reynolds' work.