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From Out of the Shadows: Sir Joshua Reynolds' Captain Robert Orme

Hallett, M. (2004) From Out of the Shadows: Sir Joshua Reynolds' Captain Robert Orme. Visual Culture in Britain, 5 (2). pp. 41-62. ISSN 1471-4787

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Abstract

This article offers a detailed interpretation of Reynolds' 1756 portrait of Captain Robert Orme, and in doing so seeks to recover the workings of military portraiture during the period of the Seven Years War (17561763). It ties Reynolds' picture to the particular historical circumstances of a catastrophic defeat for British forces in North America, and to contemporary debates concerning the identity and status of the military officer. Orme's portrait is also read in relation to the formal and ideological dynamics of chiaroscuro, which in this case functioned to promote Reynolds' subject as both a heroic, swashbuckling soldier and as an introspective, sensitive figure attuned to the melancholy narratives of a massacre. Another portrait painted by Reynolds in this period a picture of Cornet Nehemiah Winter that eerily duplicates Orme's features confirms the extent to which the artist's works adapted to the storylines of defeat as well as victory, and reveals the forms of conflicted masculinity that thereby emerged in the sphere of visual representation. Finally, the article traces the shifting identity of Orme within the contrasting spaces of the artist's showroom and the annual London exhibitions, and at two very different moments in the city's and the nation's wartime history

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Reynolds, Captain Robert Orme, military portraiture, Seven Years War
Institution: The University of York
Academic Units: The University of York > History of Art (York)
Depositing User: York RAE Import
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2009 14:08
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2009 14:08
Status: Published
Publisher: Manchester University Press
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/7740

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