‘Fame and friendship’, Kauffman and Reynolds display opens at Saltram

The National Trust’s Saltram, near Plymouth, has launched a new display to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy of Arts. The display, supported by the Art Fund, takes a closer look at the work of two Royal Academicians, Angelica Kauffman and Sir Joshua Reynolds, and their relationship with the Parker family who once owned Saltram. The paintings will be on display throughout Saltram House until the end of October.

Angelica Kauffman was one of two founding female members of the Royal Academy of Arts. She exhibited a series of four history paintings at the first-ever Royal Academy exhibition in London which were promptly purchased by the Parkers for Saltram. They continued to be key patrons for Kauffman, buying more of her works including a self-portrait as well as her working library of prints and drawings. John Parker II first met Kauffman when she painted his portrait from her studio in Italy whilst he was on the Grand Tour.

Joshua Reynolds, born in nearby Plympton, was also a friend of the Parkers and the first President of the Royal Academy. Over the years he painted many portraits of the family which will be highlighted through this display, including the famous portrait of Theresa Parker commissioned to hang in the Robert Adam designed saloon.

Reynolds and Kauffman themselves became friends and the affectionate portrait of Reynolds by Kauffman, whom he called ‘Miss Angel’ hangs in Saltram’s staircase hall. Loans from Plymouth City Council (Museums, Galleries, Archives) complement the display and visitors can see a paint palette belonging to Reynolds as well as one of his pocket books - used to record the names of those who sat for him.

Alison Cooper, National Trust curator for Saltram said, ‘The 250th Anniversary of the Royal Academy is a fantastic opportunity for us to focus on the work of Angelica Kauffman and Sir Joshua Reynolds at Saltram. Not only were they both founding members of the Royal Academy but they had fascinating connections to the Parker family of Saltram. The display will highlight key paintings in the collection but also offers the chance to look at both Kauffman’s and Reynolds’ experience of the Royal Academy, how they gained ‘celebrity status’ and how, as a woman, Kauffman had to overcome many prejudices to succeed in a male dominated art world.’