Catalogue No. 62
Portrait of George Colman, the Playwright

Artist: Reynolds, Sir Joshua, (After)
Portrait of George Colman, the Playwright

1723-92
Oil on canvas 74 x 61 cms

Collection Details
With Leggatt; previous history and date of acquisition by Lord Faringdon not recorded.

Related Pictures
Several versions of this painting exist – all copies of the original, which Reynolds painted for Lord Mulgrave in 1767 and exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1770. Leslie and Taylor in The Life and Times of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1865, describe how it was placed near a fire to hasten its drying and a gust of wind down the chimney covered the wet colours with soot, resulting in a very dark picture. This version was previously regarded as a sketch; however, the tight, detailed painting and lack of freedom of the head is not compatible with this, and the sketchy character of the rest of the portrait suggests rather that it is an unfinished replica copy. In its present state it is impossible to judge, and needs to be juxtaposed with the rediscovered original. Another studio copy is in the National Portrait Gallery (No. 1364); a third appeared in the L Gow sale, at Christie’s, 28 May 1937, lot 106: bt by Vicars.

Background
George Colman (1732–94) was a celebrated playwright (he wrote, among other plays, The Jealous Wife), who established the St James’s Chronicle and became proprietor of the Haymarket Theatre and manager at Covent Garden. He was a friend of Reynolds, and lived in Brompton Square.