Equine Excellence

Joshua Reynolds at the Metropolitan Museum is the Daily Pic by Blake Gopnik

The Daily Pic: In 1782, Joshua Reynolds gave equal attention to a toff and his mount.

In 1782, Joshua Reynolds painted this portrait of the British gent George Coussmaker and his horse, now on view in the Metropolitan Museum's revamped Old Master galleries. Or is it a portrait of the horse and his gent? Given the British love of their mounts, I wonder if any other painter has been faced with as strong a need to perform equine flattery. I love the way the horse is made to wrap elegantly around the tree, and seems to cross its hooves just as its master crosses his legs. I bet George's lady love wouldn't have been rendered as lovingly. Reynolds apparently devoted 22 sessions to painting the master and two to painting the horse, but I might have guessed the reverse.

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