Reynolds 300: Portrait of Theresa Robinson

Reynolds 300: Portrait of Theresa Robinson

18 May 2023

This tender full-length portrait dates from 1770-1772 and shows the Hon. Theresa Robinson, Mrs John Parker (1745-1775) of Saltram House, near Plymouth. She was the second wife of John Parker (1734/5-1788) (created Lord Boringdon in 1784), a great friend and patron of Reynolds. The painting has recently been beautifully conserved and is displayed for the first time since the conservation in the ‘Reframing Reynolds’ exhibition.

In this large-scale work which is on loan to the 'Reframing Reynolds: A Celebration' exhibition from the National Trust, Reynolds depicts Theresa in profile, a formal pose often used for funerary images. This would prove to be an uncanny choice as Theresa sadly died three years after the portrait was completed following complications after she lost a baby.

Theresa was loved and admired for her good nature and taste, not least by Reynolds who was very fond of her and wrote her obituary. Of this portrait, she wrote: 'Mr Parker says I am drawn feeling my pulse; it may not be the less like for that, as I am apt to do so'.

This is one of several Reynolds portraits that are being conserved by the National Trust in 2023. The painting was examined using a range of techniques, including inspection under ultra-violet light, which revealed discoloured areas of old varnish. This, along with information about the painting's original appearance from a historic mezzotint print, informed the conservators’ approach to removing varnish and overpaint layer by layer, area by area. The work was carried out at the Royal Oak Conservation Studio at Knole, Kent.

Find out more about the Hon. Theresa Robinson, Mrs John Parker (1745-1775) here.

Discover more about works by Sir Joshua Reynolds in the National Trust's collections here.

Find out more about Saltram House.

Conservation image credit:
Royal Oak Foundation Conservation Studio at Knole, Kent, National Trust. Copyright James Dobson.