Harewood launches new exhibition to mark 300 years since the birth of painter Joshua Reynolds

17th March 2023

To mark 300 years since the birth of renowned eighteenth-century painter and co-founder of the Royal Academy Joshua Reynolds, Harewood House Trust is launching a brand-new exhibition for 2023, exploring his work and role in constructing power and identity through portraiture in the age of Empire.

Opening on Saturday 18 March, Reframing Reynolds will explore the painter’s work in a new light, through the lens of the portraits he painted of the Lascelles family who lived at Harewood.
These works will be re-displayed in new ways across the State Floor, giving visitors the chance to get up close to some of Reynolds’ iconic works. The exhibition will disrupt centuries-old narratives, exploring and questioning the visual stories Reynolds told within his extraordinary paintings.

Reynolds’ relationship with the Lascelles family began in the early 1760s and spanned a period of over 20 years.

It was a time that coincided with both Reynolds’ most successful years as an artist,
and the Lascelles family’s rise in social prominence. Whilst artists had always sought to flatter their sitters, Reynolds’ innovative style of portraiture developed a dual purpose – to simultaneously idealise his clients, but also capture and convey their unique character. Working at the height of the British Empire, new sources of wealth created an aspiring class, which included families such as the Lascelles, who looked to project an identity and self-image that legitimised their new-found wealth, status and power through their commissioned portraits.
Reframing Reynolds will display six of these portraits, which includes the celebrated full-length portraits of Lady Worsley and her sister, Lady Harrington, as well as Reynolds’ exceptional full-length portrait of Mrs Hale, depicted as the Greek goddess Euphrosyne, in the Music Room.
Other works include the full-length portrait of Edwin Lascelles, who built Harewood House using profits made from the trades in sugar and enslaved people, which will be re-displayed and reinterpreted to better contextualise the portrait and sitter. Additionally, the three-quarter length portraits of Edward Lascelles, later 1st Earl of Harewood, and his wife Anne, are also featured.
Darren Pih, Chief Curator and Artistic Director, comments:
‘As we mark 300 years since the birth of celebrated British artist Sir Joshua Reynolds, Harewood is excited to present Reframing Reynolds, a brand-new exhibition that explores his relevance for audiences today. The exhibition gives insights into the artist’s innovative style and role in portraying power and status in the age of Empire. We hope that this exhibition will speak to visitors familiar with Reynolds’ work, whilst opening his work to new audiences as we demonstrate the continuing relevance of portraiture to address timely and contemporary themes.’
Day tickets to Harewood include access to Reframing Reynolds and visitors can also expect
family-friendly trails and portraiture-related activities for younger visitors, as well as art-themed workshops for aspiring artists.
More details and booking information can be found on Harewood House’s Website Here.