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Portrait of the printer and publisher William Strahan (1715-1785), who ran a highly important and successful business in the eighteenth century, at one time employing 50 men. Strahan was Samuel Johnson's chief publisher and also published the works of the philosopher David Hume. The original painting by Reynolds from which this print was made may be viewed online on the web site of the National Portrait Gallery in London (see References below), where it is part of the permanent collection. The painting was first exhibited in 1783.
Sir Joshua Reynolds was the foremost portrait painter in England in the 18th century, and was extremely influential on later generations of artists. His poses were intended to invoke classical values and to enhance the dignity of his sitters. His style incorporated strong lighting, rich color and bravura paint handling. He also made history and "fancy pictures." As first president of the Royal Academy in London, he significantly raised the profile of art and artists in Britain. Reynolds is also known for his eloquent Discourses on Art, delivered to the students and members of the Academy between 1769 and 1790.
John Jones was a London-based engraver and printseller active from 1775. He was a mezzotint and stipple engraver mainly of portraits by Reynolds, Romney and others, as well as works by Bunbury and Rowlandson. He published most of his plates himself. He exhibited at the Society of Artists from 1780-91 and served as Engraver Extraordinary to the Prince of Wales from 1790-97.
"Famous Scots." The Scottish Archive Network. 2002. http://www.scottishdocuments.com/content/famousscots.asp?whichscot=1 (7 May 2002).
"John Jones."The Grove Dictionary of Art. New York: Macmillan. 2000. Online at Artnet.com.http://www.artnet.com/library/04/0450/T045088.asp (7 May 2002).
Maxted, Ian. "The London book trades 1775-1800: a preliminary checklist of members." Exeter Working Papers in British Book Trade History. 2001. http://www.devon.gov.uk/library/locstudy/bookhist/loni.html (15 April 2002).
"NPG 4202; William Strahan." National Portrait Gallery, UK. http://www.npg.org.uk/live/search/portrait.asp?Mkey=mw06094
"Sir Joshua Reynolds." The Grove Dictionary of Art. New York: Macmillan. 2000. Online at Artnet.com. http://www.artnet.com/library/07/0717/T071710.asp (15 April 2002).
Tonson, Jacob. "Printing." Print Culture in 18th Century England. http://www.umich.edu/~ece/student_projects/print_culture/printing.html.