This month I will post several works of art that I enjoy just staring at. The first is a painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds. It is called The Infant Samuel.
The Infant Samuel
By Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A. (1723-1792)
In the National Gallery, London
Reynolds the foremost painter of the English School, takes that place by virtue of his portraits. He achieved an extraordinary popularity, not merely because of his work, but also because of his great personal charm, which gained him the patronage of the King and the friendship of such men as Johnson, Garrick, Goldsmith, Gibbon, and Burke.
He was a magnificent copyist: indeed, Sir Walter Armstrong suggested that one of the Rembrandts in the National Gallery is, in reality, a copy made by Reynolds. At the same time he assimilated the styles of the Old Masters, and reproduced their best methods upon his original canvases. In like manner, he could gather all the best of his subject and picture it in a manner graceful in composition and beautiful in colouring. In these respects, as in the delicacy of his flesh painting, his portraits have never been surpassed, and it is easy to understand that the great folk of his time were anxious to employ his genius. So popular indeed was he, that in certain years he completed three or four portraits every week, and even when he became the first President of the Royal Academy, and worked less at painting, he still produced an average of over a portrait a week.
Undoubtedly his delightful child studies must have been painted for sheer pleasure. They show that he was just as happy in portraying the innocent beauty of youth as the maturer qualities of age. In such a picture as “The Infant Samuel,” therefore, we have a combination of his qualities – the marked influence of the Italian School, the felicitous inspiration of the subject, and the beautiful colouring and dexterous workmanship which glorify the creations of his mind.
From the book “Famous Paintings” printed in 1913.
1 Samuel 3:1-10 (King James Version)
1And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision. 2And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see; 3And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep; 4That the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I. 5And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou calledst me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down. 6And the LORD called yet again, Samuel. And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And he answered, I called not, my son; lie down again. 7Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed unto him. 8And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that the LORD had called the child. 9Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.