John Dryden

1 portrait on display in Room 7 at the National Portrait Gallery

John Dryden, by John Michael Wright, circa 1668 - NPG 6854 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

John Dryden

by John Michael Wright
oil on canvas, circa 1668
30 1/4 in. x 25 in. (768 mm x 635 mm)
Purchased with help from L.L. Brownrigg, the Art Fund, the Lerner gift and Lewis Golden, 2008
Primary Collection
NPG 6854


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Sitterback to top

  • John Dryden (1631-1700), Dramatist and Poet Laureate. Sitter associated with 31 portraits.

Artistback to top

This portraitback to top

The portrait shows Dryden at around the time of his appointment as Poet Laureate in 1668. This date is supported by the style of his wig and by his appearance as a man in his thirties. The wreath around the cartouche surrounding the portrait, combined with the inscriptions, support the identification of the portrait as a depiction of Dryden at the time he was appointed poet laureate. The Latin inscriptions on the lower part of the cartouche are short quotations from six Latin poets, Virgil, Horace, Martial, Juvenal, Ovid and Silvius. The main inscription, 'Par omnibus Vnus', can be translated as 'one [poet] a match for [them] all'. By not showing the complete circle of the cartouche, the artist has given the portrait image greater prominence.

Linked publicationsback to top

Events of 1668back to top

Current affairs

An illicit affair between George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham and beauty, Anna Maria, Countess of Shrewsbury, leads to a notorious duel during which Villiers mortally wounds Shrewsbury's husband, Francis Talbot. William Penn, Quaker and founder of Pennsylvania, is imprisoned after producing pamphlets advocating Quakerism.

Art and science

Writer, Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle republishes her science fiction work, The Description of a New World, called the Blazing-World, as a separate edition, originally published as an appendix to her Observations upon Experimental Philosophy, (1666). Poet John Dryden is appointed poet laureate.

International

Diplomat and writer, Sir William Temple, negotiates the Triple Alliance between England, Holland and Sweden to protect the Spanish Netherlands from French expansion during the War of Devolution. The union ultimately forces Louis XIV to sign the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle and retreat from the Habsburg-controlled Netherlands.

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