Joshua Reynolds, English, 1723-1792
Title: The Temple Family
Date: 1780-1782
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
241 x 183 cm
Credit Line: Milltown Gift, 1902
Object Number: NGI.733
DescriptionIn an elaborate group, probably for the family portrait room at Stowe House in Buckinghamshire, Reynolds depicts George Grenville,Earl Temple (1753-1813) with his wife Mary (active 1775-1813), their son Richard, Lord Cobham (1776-1839), and an unnamed black servant (his name unknown, at a time when he was most likely a slave). The countess was the eldest daughter and heir of Earl Nugent; she was an amateur painter and supposedly a pupil of Reynolds. She looks up from her sketch of Richard on the table to check it against the original. Her husband twice served as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, where he found himself pitted against Henry Grattan in the Irish parliament, and was created 1st Marquess of Buckingham in 1788.
The inclusion of the Borghese Vase behind the family group is a reminder of the Italianate gardens at Stowe, while the boy is a skilful reworking of a young Christ Child presented to a supplicant donor, the type of borrowing found in Reynolds’s noblest portraits. As with other paintings by him, the surface has been affected by the artist’s paint experiments but the brilliant colouring re-emerged after the last cleaning. The picture was acquired by the Countess of Milltown in 1900.

March 2016

Provenance1849, Stowe sale, lot 352 (withdrawn); Agnew's, London, by 1899; Countess of Milltown, ca.1900; Miltown Gift, 1902
Exhibition HistoryCentenary Exhibition, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, October - December 1964

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