Sarah Siddons as the Tragic Muse, 1784
Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723 - 1792) was an influential English portrait painter of the Rococo Era, who painted in the “Grand Style”.
He often portrayed his Women muses in mythological roles, touched with a tender melancholy. One of the finest examples of this genre was his painting of the renowned actress of the time, Sara Siddons as the Tragic Muse. She is seated on a throne that seems to float on a cloud and in a pose that Reynolds borrowed from Michelangelo’s Prophet Joel in the Sistine Chapel. The shadowy figures of Pity and Terror, lurking behind her, add to the theatrical quality of the portrait.
After he had finished painting his subject, Reynolds humbly confessed to the great Lady, "I would not lose the honour this opportunity offered to me of going down to posterity on the hem of your garment", and promptly signed his name on the edge of Mrs. Siddon's voluminous skirt.
Upon exhibiting the work in the Royal Academy in 1784, it was instantly proclaimed a masterpiece.
My sincere thanks to slave michael for kindly sending me this art work.