The year after he died, Christie’s staged a sale of some 3000 prints and drawings owned by the ‘Eminently Distinguished Artist’ and offering ‘The Undoubted Works of the greatest masters of the Roman, Florentine, Bolognese, Venetian, French, Flemish and Dutch Schools, In the most perfect State of Preservation’. A second tranche followed at Phillips in 1798.
Having long been dispersed and with many works now in institutions around the world (around a quarter are in the British Museum), examples from the Reynolds collection appear at auction only occasionally nowadays.
One artist who Reynolds greatly admired was Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, il Guercino (1591-1666). As a young artist he studied under Thomas Hudson, a keen collector himself, who encouraged him to make copies of the Guercino sketches that he owned. Indeed much of Hudson’s collection eventually passed to Reynolds.
A landscape sketch by Guercino with a Reynolds provenance has emerged at Barsby Auctions in Australia. Showing figures by a tree, it measures 6 x 9in (16 x 24cm) and will be offered at the online only sale on September 17 with an estimate of Aus$3000-5000.
Reynolds wasn’t the only notable owner of the sketch. It was subsequently part of the collections of portrait and miniature painter Nathaniel Hone (1718-1784), another founder member of the Royal Academy, as well as fellow artist Sir George Clausen (1852-1944). The sketch is thought to have come to Australia via descent in the 1970s and has now come to auction from a deceased estate in Sydney.