Reynolds Clear-file Colonel Acland and Lord Sydney - A4
Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), Colonel Acland and Lord Sydney: The archers, 1769. Oil on canvas. H. 236; L. 180 cm. Purchased in 2005, with the support of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund supported by the Wolfson Foundation and other donors, London, Tate.
This large double portrait depicts on a life-size scale two young aristocrats, Dudley Alexander Sydney Cosby, Lord Sydney (1732-1774), shown on the left, and Colonel John Dyke Acland (1746-1778) leaping forward on the right. Dressed in quasi-historical clothing invented by the artist, they are mimicking a medieval or Renaissance hunt; the dead game they leave in their trail underlining their noble blood and aristocratic right to hunt. The painting celebrates the men's friendship by linking it to an imaginary chivalric past, when young lords pursued 'manly' activities together against a backdrop of ancient forest. The two subjects run and take aim in perfect rhythmic harmony; at one with each other and joint masters over nature.