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John Dryden

10 of 18 portraits 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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  • John Dryden (1631-1700), Dramatist and Poet Laureate. Sitter associated with 30 portraits.

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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.

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