On display in:

Morning Room

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Artist or maker

Reynolds, Joshua (b.1723, d.1792)



exhibition date

Place of production

  • London, England, United Kingdom


  • oil on canvas

Type of object

  • paintings

Accession number


Rectangular oil painting on canvas with a full-length depiction of Emily Pott as Thaïs. Thaïs, in classical dress, walks down the steps in front of the burning buildings of Persepolis. Her arms are outstretched and she holds a lit torch in her right hand. There is an upturned metal ewer at her feet.The sky is dark with the smoke of the fire. The buildings are decorated with statues.

Physical description

Dimensions (mm) / weight (mg)

2293 x 1448

Signature & date

not signed or dated


no 2
on verso, upper stretcher, pencil


on verso, round blue label, handwritten

F. Reedham / [Liner?]
on verso, upper centre on vertical stretcher



  • Commissioned by Charles Greville (b.1749, d.1809), paid for in 1786; bought from Greville probably in 1787 by Wilbraham Tollemache, 6th Earl of Dysart (b.1739, d.1821); inherited by his nephew Admiral John Richard Delap Tollemache (b.1772, d.1837); by descent to his son John Tollemache, 1st Baron Tollemache of Helmingham (b.1805, d.1890); bought by Wertheimer from Baron Tollemache at Peckforton Castle in 1888; bought from Wertheimer probably in 1888 by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild (b.1839, d.1898); inherited by his sister Alice de Rothschild (b.1847, d.1922); inherited by her great-nephew James de Rothschild (b.1878, d.1957); bequeathed to Waddesdon The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust) in 1957.

Exhibition history

  • Royal Academy Exhibition, London, 1781, no. 10 as 'Thais'
  • British Institute Exhibition, London, 1817, no. 78, lent by the Earl of Dysart
  • London: Suffolk Street, 1833, no. 101, lent by Admiral Tollemache
  • Art Treasures Exhibition, Manchester, 1857, no. 118, lent by J. [John, 1st Baron] Tollemache
  • Spencer House, London, 1991


  • Waddesdon (National Trust)
  • Bequest of James de Rothschild, 1957


  • Anon; The Ear Wig, or An Old Woman's remarks on the Present Exhibition of Pictures of the Royal Academy; London; [n. pub.]; 1781; pp. 5-6.
  • James Northcote; The Life of Sir Joshua Reynolds; 2 vols; London; Henry Colburn Publishers; 1819; vol. 11, p. 120.
  • C R Leslie, T. Taylor; The Life and Times of Sir Joshua Reynolds; 2 vols; London; John Murray; 1865; vol. 2, pp. 321-22, 325, n. 2.
  • E. A. Hamilton; A Catalogue Raisonné of the Engraved Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds; London; Colnaghi & Co.; 1884; p. 126.
  • Algernon Graves, William Vine Cronin; A History of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds; 4 vols; London; Henry Graves; 1899-1901; vol 2, pp. 762-63.
  • Fanny Burney (known after her marriage as Madame d'Arblay); Diary and letters of Madame d'Arblay Vol 1, (1778-1840); London; Macmillan & Co Ltd; 1904; p. 466.
  • Ellis Waterhouse; Reynolds; London; Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co. Ltd.,; 1941; pl. 223.
  • Sir Francis Watson, The Art Collections at Waddesdon Manor I: The Paintings, Apollo, 69, June 1959, 172-182; p. 175, fig. 7.
  • Ellis Waterhouse, The English Pictures at Waddesdon Manor, Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 54, August 1959, 49-56; p. 55, fig. 6.
  • Peter Quennell; The Prodigal Rake. Memoirs of William Hickey; New York; E. P. Dutton; 1962; pp. 251-257.
  • Ellis Waterhouse, Anthony Blunt; Paintings: The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor; Fribourg; Office du Livre, The National Trust; 1967; pp. 92-94, cat. 33.
  • Malcolm Cormack, The Ledgers of Sir Joshua Reynolds, The Walpole Society, 42, 1968-1970, 105-69; p. 153.
  • Nicholas Penny, The society of Reynolds; Joshua Reynolds, an 18th century painter, FMR Magazine (Franco Maria Ricci), February 1986, 145-end; p. 145, ill.
  • Nicholas Penny; Reynolds; Royal Academy of Arts, London, 16 January - 31 March 1986; London; Royal Academy of Arts; 1986; pp. 295-96.
  • Andrea G. Pearson, Gilbert Stuart's The Skater (Portrait of William Grant) and Henry Raeburn's The Reverend Robert Walker, D.D., Skating on Duddingston Loch: A Study of Sources, Rutgers Art Review, 8, 1987, 55-70; pp. 55-70.
  • Martin Postle, Reynolds, Shaftesbury, Van Dyck and Dobson: Sources for Garrick between Tragedy and Comedy, Apollo, 132, 1990, 306-11; pp. 306-11.
  • Andrew Wilton; The Swagger Portrait: Grand Manner Portraiture in Britain From Van Dyck to Augustus John; Tate Gallery, London, 14 October 1992 - 10 January 1993; London; The Tate Gallery Publications; 1992; p. 134.
  • Martin Postle, Reynolds's Portraits at Waddesdon Manor: Painting for Posterity, Apollo, 139, 1994, 19-33; p. 23, fig. 2.
  • Martin Postle; Joshua Reynolds: The Subject Pictures; Cambridge; Cambridge University Press; 1995; pp. 44-48, 192, 312, 321.
  • Marcia Pointon; Strategies for Showing: Women, Possession and Representation in Visual Culture. 1665 - 1800; Oxford; Oxford University Press; 1997; pp. 211-215, pl. 46.
  • Stephanie Tasch; Studien zum weiblichen Rollenporträt in England von Anthonis van Dyck bis Joshua Reynolds; Weimar; Verlagll. Datenbank fuer Geisteswisswenchafter; 1999; p. 364, fig. 86.
  • David Mannings, Martin Postle; Sir Joshua Reynolds: a Complete Catalogue of his Paintings; 2 vols; London; Yale University Press; 2000; vol. 1, pp. 566-567, no. 2167, fig. 1705, p. 135.
  • Robyn Asleson, Shelley Bennett; British Painting at The Huntington; New Haven; Yale University Press; 2001; p. 333, fig. 123; discussed under Reynolds, 'Diana (Sackville) Viscountess Crosbie', inv. no. 23.13 (similar pose).
  • Alex Kidson; George Romney 1734-1802; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 8 February - 21 April 2002; National Portrait Gallery, London, 30 May - 18 August 2002; Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California, 15 September - 1 December 2002; London; National Portrait Gallery Publications; 2002; pp. 167-168, fig. 52.
  • Martin Postle; "Painted Women": Reynolds and the Cult of the Courtesan; Robyn Asleson, Notorious Muse: The Actress in British Art and Culture 1776-1812, London, Yale University Press, 2003; 22-55; pp. 43-45, pl. 4.
  • Katie Hickman; Courtesans; London; Harper Collins Publishers; 2003; p. 236.
  • Julius Bryant; Kenwood: Paintings in the Iveagh Bequest; New Haven; Yale University Press; 2003; p. 357.
  • Les collections exceptionnelles des Rothschild: Waddesdon Manor (Hors-série de l'Estampille/l'Objet d'Art, No. 14); Dijon; Éditions Faton; 2004; pp. 22-29.
  • Martin Postle; Joshua Reynolds: The Creation of Celebrity; Tate Britain, London,26 May - 18 September 2005; Palazzo dei Diamanti, Ferrara, 13 February - 1 May 2005; London; Tate Publishing; 2005; p. 205.
  • Kate Williams; England's Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton; London; Hutchinson, The Random House Group Ltd; 2006; pp. 51-52; wrongly identifies sitter as Emma Hamilton.
  • Katherine Baetjer; British Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum; New York; Yale University Press; 2009; p. 128.
  • Robyn Asleson; Notorious Muse: The Actress in British Art and Culture 1776-1812; London; Yale University Press; 2003; p. x, fig. IV.
  • Iris Wien; Joshua Reynolds: Mythos und Metapher; Munich; Wilhelm Fink Verlag; 2009; p. 354, fig. 102.
  • Faramerz Dabhoiwala; The Origins of Sex: A History of the First Sexual Revolution; London; Allen Lane The Penguin Press (London), Oxford University Press; 2011; p. 356, pl. 12.
  • Mark Hallett; Joshua Reynolds: Portraiture in Action; New Haven; Yale University Press; 2014; pp. 347-350, fig. 335.

Related files

Other details

Subject person

  • Emily Pott, Pictured