Samuel Pepys

Samuel Pepys, by John Hayls, 1666 - NPG 211 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Samuel Pepys

by John Hayls
oil on canvas, 1666
29 3/4 in. x 24 3/4 in. (756 mm x 629 mm)
Purchased, 1866
Primary Collection
NPG 211

On display in Room 7 at the National Portrait Gallery


Pepys took a great interest in all matters af…

Sitterback to top

  • Samuel Pepys (1633-1703), Diarist and naval administrator. Sitter in 11 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • John Hayls (1600?-1679). Artist associated with 6 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.

This portraitback to top

In his diary, Pepys records on 17 March 1666: 'I sit to have it full of shadows and so almost break my neck looking over my shoulders to make the posture for him to work by'. There were more sittings on 20, 23, 28 and 30 March, when he sat 'till almost quite darke upon working my gowne which I hired to be drawne in; an Indian gowne'. Pepys paid Hayls £14 for the picture and 25s for the frame on 16 May, commenting that he was 'well satisfied' with it. The music he holds is his own setting of a lyric by Sir William Davenant, 'Beauty, retire'.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG D18073: Diploma of membership of the Samuel Pepys Club for Sir Edmund Gosse (source portrait)

Linked publicationsback to top

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1666back to top

Current affairs

The Great Fire of London starts in a baker's shop in Pudding Lane, destroying two-thirds of the city. Charles II and James, Duke of York personally direct and manually assist with the fire-fighting effort. Thousands are left homeless, though few people die.

Art and science

Mathematical scientist, Isaac Newton, formulates a series of groundbreaking theories concerning light, colour, calculus, and, after supposedly watching an apple fall from a tree, the universal law of gravitation.
Nicholas Lanier, Master of the King's Music dies and Frenchman Louis Grabu is appointed the post.


The Four Days' Battle. Dutch navy led by Admiral Michiel de Ruyter attacks the English fleet under George Monck, Duke of Albemarle, now Joint- Commander-in-Chief with Prince Rupert. Outcome of the battle is indecisive, though England loses twice as many men and ships, severely damaging the fleet.

Tell us more back to top

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Justin Reay

23 October 2018, 17:32

The robe Pepys chose to be depicted in is of silk satin, called 'Indian' in his diary entries for March 1666, but likely to be Turkish or Persian in origin. The looseness and informality of the gown and of the linen sleeves and cravat add to his depiction as an artist (musician), rather than as the senior civil servant and confidante of the King he had become by this date, for which a more elaborate, close fitting "suit" of a coat, waistcoat and tight lace cravat would have been appropriate.

Teresa Ferguson

28 March 2016, 02:30

About the velvet coat he's wearing in the portrait. From Samuel Pepys's diary entry of 25 August 1660: (Guthenberg project so free to public) 'This night W. Hewer brought me home from Mr. Pim's my velvet coat and cap, the first that ever I had.'

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