The Huntington Store Custom Prints



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About the Artwork

Of the nearly 400 portraits of the legendary actress Sarah Siddons that have been recorded, this one is considered her defining image. It is also renowned as one of Reynolds’s greatest paintings. Siddons had recently taken London by storm with her performance in a string of heartbreaking tragic roles when she posed for Reynolds.

Siddons appears as an austere icon of Tragedy, seemingly enthroned for all eternity. Conscious that he was painting a theatrical star, Reynolds dressed Siddons in the way audiences were accustomed to seeing her on stage. She wears a sumptuous gold dress with scalloped sleeves – a fanciful variation on 17th-century style – a diadem, and a twisted strand of pearls. Two figures behind her allude to Aristotle’s statement that the value of tragedy lies in the emotional catharsis it engenders through the experience of fear and pity. On the right, holding a poisoned chalice, is the figure of Terror, whose grimacing face was modeled on Reynolds’s own features studied in a mirror. To the left, clutching a dagger, is the figure of Pity. Reynolds’s muted color scheme enhances the drama, while the spotlight on the star allows the supporting players to fade into the shadows.

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About Our Prints

The Huntington Store Custom Prints offers exclusive custom reproductions of artworks in the collections of The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. Hand-made in the USA using gallery-quality materials, we create prints as true to the original work as possible, using strict color management protocols and state-of-the-art printing technology.
Many of the works offered through this store are exclusive and not available anywhere else. We are continually adding new artworks to our offering, so be sure to check back regularly as you build your own gallery. A variety of molding styles means our custom framed prints can match any type of decor.