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Laurence Sterne

2 of 16 portraits of Laurence Sterne

Laurence Sterne, by Unknown artist, circa 1760 - NPG 2022 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Laurence Sterne

by Unknown artist
oil on canvas, circa 1760
17 1/2 in. x 14 in. (444 mm x 356 mm)
Purchased, 1924
Primary Collection
NPG 2022


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  • Laurence Sterne (1713-1768), Writer and divine; author of 'Tristram Shandy'. Sitter in 16 portraits.

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Identification rests on comparison with authentic likenesses and is strengthened by the allusion to Rabelais, with whom Sterne was sometimes compared (on the grey wall, left, a plaque with classical male head is lettered RA[BL]AIS). The portrait was painted presumably late in life when, after years of ill health, Sterne had become permanently weakened by haemorrhages of the lungs. The perspective of the background is well drawn but the figure is out of proportion and suggests an artist who did not normally paint portraits. There is a unique mezzotint in the Berg collection, New York Public Library.
More detailed information on this portrait is available in a National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue, John Kerslake's Early Georgian Portraits (1977, out of print).

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