Joshua Reynolds was Britain’s leading portraitist in the 1700s, one of 34 founders of the Royal Academy and its first President. He courted aristocracy, celebrity and royalty to establish himself as a prominent, sought-after cultural figure. Self-portraits also helped his mission – he produced around 30 over his career. In part he used self-portraiture to experiment with new techniques, facial expressions and compositions, but also to raise his own status as an artist, celebrity and intellectual. This portrait was hung in the grand rooms of the RA – the perfect spot to be seen by many prestigious visitors.