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Reynolds continually turned to allegory, metaphor and symbolism in his portraits, particularly his portraits of women. This gallery investigates these aspects of the artist's practice, and suggests some of the ways in which theyprovided forms of pictorial role-play through which he could elevate and activate the imagery of his female sitters.

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Industry and Idleness (Plate 11)
Industry and Idleness (Plate 12)
March of the Guards
The Cock Pit
All images © British Library

1.James Watson after Sir Joshua Reynolds, Elizabeth, Duchess of Manchester and son, c.1769.
2.Charles Howard Hodges after Sir Joshua Reynolds, Mrs Musters as Hebe, 1785.
3.Edward Fisher after Sir Joshua Reynolds, Lady Sarah Bunbury, 1766.
4.James Watson after Sir Joshua Reynolds, Mrs Hale as Euphrosyne, 1766-1790.