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Sir Joshua Reynolds

      Sir Joshua Reynolds, the celebrated painter, was, on July 16, 1723, born at Plympton, a small town in Devonshire, England. His father was a minister of the parish, and also master of the grammar school; and being a man of learning and philanthropy, he was beloved and respected by all to whom he was known. Such a man, it will naturally be supposed, was assiduous in the cultivation of the minds of his children, among whom his son Joshua shone conspicuous, by displaying at a very early period a superiority of genius and the rudiments of a correct taste. Unlike other boys, who generally content themselves with giving a literal explanation of their author, regardless of his beauties or his faults, young Reynolds attended to both these, displaying a happy knowledge of what he read, and entering with ardor into the spirit of his author. He discovered likewise talents for composition, and a natural propensity to drawing, in which his friends and intimates thought him qualified to excel. Emulation was a distinguishing characteristic of his mind, which his father perceived with the delight natural to a parent; and designing him for the church, in which he hoped that his talents might raise him to eminence, he sent him to one of the universities.

      Soon after this period he grew passionately fond of painting; and by the perusal of Richardson's theory of that art was determined to make it his profession through life. At his own earnest request, therefore, he was removed to London; and a...

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