Lot 9
BARETTI, GUISEPPE (1719-1789, poet and critic)
Sold for £1,200 (US$ 2,016) inc. premium
Lot Details
BARETTI, GUISEPPE (1719-1789, poet and critic)
PORTRAIT BY J[OHN] WATTS (fl.1776-1780) AFTER SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS P.R.A. (1723-1792), mezzotint, half-length, seated reading, lettered in the inscription space with the painter's, the engraver's and the sitter's names and as published 18 July 1780 by John Boydell, two fox marks in inscription, very fine dark image, framed and glazed, size of image 18 x 13½ inches (46 x 34 cm), overall size 26 x 20 inches (66 x 51 cm), 18 July 1780


  • The portrait, from which this splendid mezzotint was engraved, has been described as one of Reynolds's masterpieces. Edmond Malone declared it to be 'an admirable likeness' and John Beattie 'a very fine performance.' Henry Thrale commissioned the work in 1773 for the series in his library at Streatham Park; 'it took up just eight hours in painting.'

    Like James Barry in his portrait of Baretti, Reynolds emphasised 'the defective vision of the sitter as a means to convey his ferocious intelligence.' Aileen Ribeiro explains that Baretti's hair in this portrait 'is worn with the back hair or queue turned up on itself and tied round the middle - the catogan style then favoured by the "macaronis", as ultra-fashionable young men were then known.'

    Barretti was author of A Dictionary of the English and Italian Languages, and a close friend of Johnson, Reynolds and the Thrales.

    As President of the Royal Academy, it was Reynolds who secured for Baretti the sinecure of Secretary for Foreign Correspondence to the Royal Academy. Baretti translated Reynolds's first seven Discourses into Italian. At Johnson's suggestion Baretti wrote A Journey from London through England, Portugal, Spain and France, dedicated 'To the President and Members of the Royal Academy.'. The book caused Reynolds much entertainment and provoked a parody by 'Rinaldo' entitled A Journey from London to Brentford, through Knightsbridge, Kensington, Hammersmith, and Turnham Green, first published in 1958.

    PROVENANCE: From the collection of Alfred Morrison of Fonthill (his stamp on verso).

    REFERENCES: Chaloner Smith 1; O'Donoghue 119/1; Hamilton p. 5; David Mannings, Sir Joshua Reynolds: A Complete Catalogue of his Paintings, 2000; Derek Hudson, Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1958; Nicholas Penny, Reynolds, 1986.
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