The Age of Innocence Joshua Reynolds Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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This remains one of Joshua Reynolds' most reproduced paintings of all, with over 300 copies in oil made in the years shortly after it was completed.

The Age of Innocence was seen as a model of portraiture techniques across the 19th century and many developing artists used it as a study piece during its time at the National Gallery. It was subsequently gifted to the Tate in 1951 and has remained under its ownership ever since.

One extraordinary finding around this artwork is that is was placed directly over another Reynolds painting, namely A Strawberry Girl. That was deemed surplus to requirements due to substantial damage to the surface as a result of the particular painting techniques used by the artist. He also produced several other versions of A Strawberry Girl which makes his decision feel less reckless.

The Age of Innocence has been much discussed in the centuries that followed its creation, most notably concerning the identity of the young girl modelling in this work. No real confirmation has ever been made. As a well connected artist, there have been several names put forward but a lack of documentation from the 18th century has made it hard to attribute the girl’s identity with any great confidence.