The Reynolds Research Project is a major research project launched by the Wallace Collection in collaboration with the National Gallery and with funding from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. It is a detailed technical investigation of Reynolds’s materials and painting methods in parallel with art historical research into the twelve paintings by Reynolds at the Collection. Such a project is particularly appropriate for Reynolds, who is both renowned and notorious for his continual search for new pictorial effects and for his sometimes disastrous use of untested and often unstable painting materials. The project has also spearheaded similar technical investigations in the United Kingdom and overseas.
In the course of the project, three of the Wallace Collection’s paintings have been selected for conservation treatment: portraits of Miss Jane Bowles, The Duke of Queensberry and Nelly O’Brien. All decisions relating to conservation have been carefully considered by an international advisory committee of Reynolds experts.
The findings of the project will form the focus on our forthcoming exhibition, Sir Joshua Reynolds: experiments in paint at the Wallace Collection, beginning in March 2015. It will feature a number of loan paintings that have also been analysed by conservators at their host institutions, and will, we hope, reveal the complexities and ambitions of Reynolds’s artistic practice.