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Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A., Portrait of Frederick, 5th Earl of Carlisle (1745-1825). Oil on canvas, 241.43 by 149.9 cm.

LONDON.- A major full-length portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723–1792) of the 5th Earl of Carlisle (1748-1825), aged 20 has been accepted in lieu of inheritance tax for the nation. This important painting has been allocated to Tate and will remain on public display in its original setting at Castle Howard in North Yorkshire, and in the future will be shown elsewhere around the country including Tate Britain. 

The portrait, which has long been recognised as one of Reynolds’ masterpieces, was commissioned by the sitter and completed in 1769 when Reynolds was at the height of his powers, having just been elected the first President of the Royal Academy. The painting has always been central to the collection at Castle Howard and has hung there for over 200 years. 

The 5th Earl was a key patron and collector of the arts in the North of England in the 18th century. Dressed in formal robes surrounded by classical architecture and his beloved dog Rover at his feet, Reynolds captures Carlisle in a lively and highly skilled manner, marking his entry into society following his Grand Tour and his position as head of this important family dynasty. The complex composition, paintwork and use of colour illustrates perfectly why Reynolds was the leading British portrait painter of the 18th century. Reynolds’ composition alludes to the architecture of Castle Howard, designed by Sir John Vanbrugh (1664-1726). The building of Castle Howard was completed under the supervision of the 5th Earl who filled the great house with his fine collection of Old Masters. 

Edward Harley, Chairman of the AIL Panel, said: “The Acceptance in Lieu scheme has been enriching our heritage for over a century; I am delighted that this masterpiece by Reynolds, one of the most important painters of the day, has entered our national collection under the scheme.” 

Alex Farquharson, Director, Tate Britain said: “The magnificent painting Frederick Howard, 5th Earl of Carlisle 1769 is the first full-length male portrait by Joshua Reynolds to join the Tate collection. A glamorous portrait in oil of the earl and his beloved dog Rover, it is an outstanding example of the type of painting for which Reynolds is most highly acclaimed. I am delighted that this work will now enter the national collection, the greatest collection of British art in the world, and that it will be shown both in its original setting in Castle Howard and, in future, at Tate Britain and elsewhere."