by Unknown artist
oil on canvas, circa 1760
17 1/2 in. x 14 in. (444 mm x 356 mm)
Sitterback to top
- Laurence Sterne (1713-1768), Writer and divine; author of 'Tristram Shandy'. Sitter in 16 portraits.
This portraitback to top
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).
Linked publicationsback to top
- Kerslake, John, Early Georgian Portraits, 1977, p. 267
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 588
Events of 1760back to top
Current affairsDeath of George II on 25 October at the age of 76. George III succeeds to the throne at the age of 22.
Art and scienceGerman artist Johan Zoffany arrives in England, where he is instrumental in reviving the 'conversation piece' genre of painting.
First public exhibition of paintings in England is held at the Society of Arts' Great Room in the Strand, London.
The Public Ledger is founded; the oldest British periodical with continuous daily publication.
InternationalSeven Years' War: At the Battle of Carrickfergus in Ireland, a force of French troops captures the town of Carrickfergus before retiring.
Surrender of Montreal to the British under General Jeffrey Amherst signals the virtual loss of Canada by the French. British troops oust the Nawab of Bengal Mir Jafar and replace him with Mir Quasim.
Former Chief Tacky leads an unsuccessful slave rebellion in Jamaica, which aims to overthrow British rule.
Exhibitions and displays
- Life, Death and Memory
Until 4 February 2018
- Portrait of the Day: Henry VIII & Katherine of Aragon
17 December, 12:30
Tell us more
Help us conserve a portrait of a female adventurer, poet and medical pioneer