The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774), Writer

A brief survey of Goldsmith’s iconography appeared in A. Dobson, The Poetical Works of Goldsmith, 1927, Appendix A, pp 259-61.

1769-70
Painting by Joshua Reynolds, see NPG 130 and NPG 828.

1770
In January 1770 Goldsmith sent his cousin Jenny a miniature of himself: ‘the face you well know is ugly enough, but it is finely painted’. This has been associated with the drawing engraved Cook 1780 (K. Balderston ed., Goldsmith, Collected Letters, 1928, p 85); anon. (Universal Mag.), and P. Audinet 1795 (Biographical Mag.).

Caleb Whitefoord had an 'admirable miniature' of Goldsmith ‘by Reynolds’ which belonged to his descendants in 1898 (Whitefoord Papers, 1898, p XXVII).

c.1770
Watercolour by an unknown artist, see NPG 676.

c.1772
Drawing by Henry Bunbury whole-length walking, his hat in his right hand, etched J. Bretherton 1772 as The Full Blown Macaroni (F. G. Stephens, British Museum, Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires, IV, 4714).

Etching by Henry Bunbury, half length, inscribed by Horace Walpole. Lewis Walpole Library, Farmington (illus. Eighteenth-century Studies, IX, I, 1975, f.p.42, fig.2).

Drawing by Henry Bunbury, half-length oval, etched J. Bretherton 1776 (illus. A. Dobson, Poetical Works of Goldsmith, 1927, f.p.259). The artist's sister-in-law thought 'nothing can exceed its truth', and Prior described it as ‘an excellent though not flattering likeness, yet presenting great benevolence of expression, and conveying the best idea of his countenance’ (J. Prior, Life of Goldsmith, 1837, II, pp 380, 536).
A second bust-length profile (without hands), by Bunbury was also etched by Bretherton.

1774
Miniature by Joseph Saunders, exhibited Society of Artists, London, 1774 (247).

Painting, probably a miniature, by John Ford, exhibited Free Society of Artists, London, 1774 (387).

Posthumous
1774-76
Monument by Joseph Nollekens, incorporating a medallion portrait derived from the head by Reynolds. Westminster Abbey. Johnson was composing the epitaph in June 1776. Engraved E. Finden 1836 and J. Cochran ‘from the original drawing by J. Nollekens’.

1777-84
Painting by James Barry, Elysium, part of the Progress of Human CUlture, in which Goldsmith appears behind Samuel Richardson. Royal Society of Arts, London (W. L. Pressly, The Life and Art of James Barry, 1981, no.27). Engraved J. Barry 1791. The head apparently based on the Reynolds portrait of 1769-70.

c.1800
Medal by John Woodhouse (L. Brown, A Catalogue of British Historical Medals 1760-1960: The Accession of George III to the Death of William IV, 1980, no.187a).

1827
Marble bust by William Behnes. Trinity College, Dublin. Plaster in the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; another was exhibited Crystal Palace (Samuel Phillips, The Portrait Gallery of the Crystal Palace, 1854, no.410).

1861-65
Monument by J. H. Foley, whole-length standing. Trinity College, Dublin (illus. B. Read, Victorian Sculpture, 1982, pp 36, 166; A. Crookshank & D. Webb, Paintings and Scuptures in Trinity College Dublin, 1990, p 60). Engraved G. Stodart 1865. Statuette sold Sotheby’s, 15 July 1998, lot 79. A version in the Royal Collection at Windsor. Modello exhibited Royal Hibernian Academy 1861 (599) and RA 1861 (981).

Doubtful Portraits
‘Painting in the possession of the Rev Mr Williams’, engraved Wainwright; W. Ridley 1799; J. C. Bock 1800, and F. Fleischmann.

For the portrait sold Christie’s, March 1904, lot 48 as Goldsmith by Dance, see Colman, NPG 1364.



This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits 1760-1790, National Portrait Gallery, 2004, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.