Angelica Kauffman was a successful and influential artist of the mid-late 1700s, and one of only two female founder members of the Royal Academy of Arts, in Londonin 1768. Despite also being a skilled portrait and landscape artist, she is rememberedprimarily for her success as a history painter. This was seen as the most elite category in academic painting at the time, and an unusual choice for a female artist.
This portrait shows the flamboyant and controversial figure Sir Banestre Tarleton, a cavalry officer best known as commander of the ‘Tarleton Raiders’ during the American war of independence. It was painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds, the leading British portrait painter of the 18th century. Reynolds was a founding member of the Royal Academy and its first President, and was knighted by King George III.