A three-quarter-length portrait wearing flag-officer's undress uniform, 1748–1767. The ribbon of the Order of the Bath was probably added later. Saunders sailed with Commodore Anson during his four-year voyage round the world, 1740–1744, as a lieutenant in the 'Centurion', 64 guns. However, he was sent home with dispatches from Macao, arriving back in England in 1743. While in command of the 'Yarmouth', 64 guns, he played a distinguished part in Hawke's action with de l'Entenduère in 1747. He became Treasurer of Greenwich Hospital in 1754 and Comptroller of the Navy in 1755, and was second-in-command in the Mediterranean in 1756 and, by succession, Commander-in-Chief in 1757. In 1759, as a vice-admiral, he commanded the fleet and co-operated with Major-General Wolfe in the amphibious assault that led to the capture of Quebec. In 1765 he became one of the Lords of the Admiralty and, for a few months in 1766, First Lord. He was installed as a Knight of the Bath on 26 May 1761. In 1740, Reynolds was apprenticed to the portrait painter Thomas Hudson (1701–1790) and he travelled to Italy in 1749. In 1753 he set up in London and rapidly made a name as a portrait painter, profoundly influenced by his time in Italy to travel and study. Reynolds borrowed poses from the old masters and by 1759 had created social portraits in a new style that were deemed fresh and modern and yet dignified the status of the sitter. He became the first President of the Royal Academy in 1768 and was knighted the following year. Reynolds was the leading portrait painter of his day and the most influential figure of the century in elevating the status of British painting and portraiture.
Where to see this painting?
National Maritime Museum
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