We are pleased to announce that Prof. Matthew Hunter (McGill) has been added to the line-up for the Curiously Drawn conference taking place 21st-22nd June at the Royal Society.
His title and abstract are given below. This additional session will take place at 12noon on Friday 22nd June.
Joshua Reynolds, The Royal Society and the Temporally-Evolving Chemical Object in the British Enlightenment
First President of Britain’s Royal Academy of Art and painter of some two thousand society portraits, Joshua Reynolds has often been cast as a classicizing arch conservative. Yet, as was debated extensively amongst his contemporaries, Reynolds (FRS) was also a radical chemical experimenter.
Using a secretive laboratory of varnishes and fugitive pigments, he crafted visually striking images that came together quickly and stopped his audiences dead in their tracks. Just as often, those paintings soon began to deteriorate as objects: flaking, discolouring, visibly altering in time. This paper proposes that, when seen through the interests in experimental, chemical visualizations advanced by early Royal Society Fellows including Hooke, Grew and Wren, the aim of Reynolds’s risky pictorial enterprise and its implications can be assessed by very different criteria.