Search the Collection

William Cowper (1731-1800), Poet

Sitter in 7 portraits
Poet; he studied law at the Temple. Cowper achieved popular success with the publication, in 1785, of a volume of poetry including The Diverting History of John Gilpin, a humorous ballad that became the most popular poem of the decade, and The Task, which condemned slavery. He suffered from severe depression throughout his life, and an early personal and professional crisis led to his conversion to evangelical Christianity, influencing much of his work. Several hymns that he wrote became favourites, including 'God moves in a mysterious way'.

List Thumbnail


William Cowper

by Lemuel Francis Abbott
oil on canvas, 1792
NPG 2783


William Cowper

by William Harvey, after Lemuel Francis Abbott
watercolour and pencil, circa 1835 (1792)
NPG 806


William Cowper

by George Romney
pastel, 1792
NPG 1423


William Cowper

by William Blake, after Sir Thomas Lawrence
stipple engraving, 1802 (1793)
NPG D20230


William Cowper

by Henry Meyer, published by T. Cadell & W. Davies, after Lemuel Francis Abbott
stipple engraving, published 11 June 1816
NPG D14901


William Cowper

after Sir Thomas Lawrence
pencil, (1793)
NPG D159


William Cowper

by Francesco Bartolozzi, published by William Richard Beckford Miller, after Sir Thomas Lawrence
stipple engraving, published 1 May 1805 (1793)
NPG D19512