• 3 May 2019
  • 1:00 – 2:00 pm
  • Light lunch provided.
    Free booking essential.
  • Seminar Room , Paul Mellon Centre

Guido Reni and his Bolognese contemporaries were among the most collectable and revered artists in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Britain. Their works were the hallmark of a refined collection, with autograph paintings and copies adorning the walls of collections across the country. However, during the nineteenth century, Reni’s reputation suffered a dramatic decline and he became deeply suspect in the British popular imagination. His works were the subject of critical reassessment and he was judged by a new standard of taste. This change in status has traditionally been attributed to John Ruskin, whose vitriol against seventeenth-century Bolognese painting in the mid-nineteenth century is well-documented. However, examination of the writings, collecting activities, and artistic productions of Royal Academicians at the turn of the nineteenth century suggests that this rejection actually occurred much earlier than previously acknowledged. The diverse reactions of Sir Joshua Reynolds, Benjamin West, John Opie, and Henry Fuseli (among others) reveal much about Reni’s changing position within the artistic canon during this period and more broadly the shifting attitudes of the British art establishment towards the works of past masters.

Image details:

George Johann Scharf, Westmacott lecturing at Somerset House in 1830.

Chalk style lithotint. 200 mm x 316 mm.

©Royal Academy of Arts

About the speaker

  • Amy Parrish

    Amy Parrish is a final year M3C/AHRC-funded PhD candidate at the University of Nottingham. Her research focuses on an extreme revolution in taste in European art: the transformation of British attitudes towards Guido Reni from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. She has an MA in Classics from the University of Cambridge and an MA in Curating the Art Museum from the Courtauld Institute of Art. She recently undertook a research trip to the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles for six weeks as a recipient of a Getty Library Research Grant.