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Portrait of Admiral Lord Heathfield, Governor of Gibraltar

Painting, 1788, 142.2×113.7 cm

Description of the artwork «Portrait of Admiral Lord Heathfield, Governor of Gibraltar»

One of the most significant paintings in the works of the late Reynolds, "Portrait of Admiral Heathfield" (1787-1788) completes the glorious gallery of portraits of naval officers, written by the artist since the mid 1750s ("Portrait of Commodore Keppela", "Portrait of Captain Robert Manners" et al.) They all reflect the motive of serving a great vocation, which is most important for the Enlightenment.

Admiral Heathfield and his calling

The portraits of Reynolds are characterized by the underlining of a particular field of activity in which his models have manifested themselves, indicating their professional or social status. Thus, the governor of Gibraltar, Lord Heathfield, is depicted against the background of the sea and clouds of smoke from artillery shells. Behind him, a naval battle unfolds, but Heathfield confidently and calmly holds in his hands a large key - a symbol of the unshakability of the Gibraltar fortress.

From about the 1870s, Reynolds was influenced not so much by Italian masters as Rembrandt and Rubens, his writing style gradually getting rid of baroque refinement, becoming broader and more powerful - this is clearly seen in Admiral Heathfield's Portrait, especially in comparison with an earlier thematically similar "Portrait of Commodore Keppel". Keppel is elegant and deliberately depicted in the pose of Apollo Belvedere - an elderly and battle-hardened Admiral Heathfield is heavily monumental, but beautiful in his restrained animation.

Artistic features of the painting

"Portrait of Admiral Heathfield" is undoubtedly one of the best paintings by Reynolds: the personality of the admiral is given here very clearly. A weathered face with a heavy nose and a square chin, a gaze from under the overhanging eyebrows — there is no idealization in the image of Heathfield; on the contrary, it is written with great certainty of life. The image, given a little upwards, makes Hitfield's figure even stronger and more impressive, this technique emphasizes that the admiral and his subordinate fleet indestructibly guard the interests of Britain - "the ruler of the seas" and "the empire that the sun never sets."

Landscape painter John Costable noted about the "Portrait of Admiral Heathfield" that it "contains the whole history of the defense of Gibraltar."

Author: Anna Yesterday
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Portrait

Style of art: Romanticism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1788

Size: 142.2×113.7 cm

Artwork in selections: 3 selections

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