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

John Dryden

John Dryden, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt, 1693 -NPG 2083 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Later Stuart Portraits Catalogue

John Dryden

by Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt
49 in. x 39 3/4 in. (1245 mm x 1010 mm)
NPG 2083

Inscriptionback to top

Inscribed, top right: Mr Dryden; signed, bottom right: … neller/pinxit.

This portraitback to top

The date is taken from Vandergucht’s engraving. Dryden holds the classical insignia of a poet’s laurel wreath (although deprived of the laureateship in 1688). A three-quarter-length version is in the Treasurer’s House, York, and a half-length, formerly NPG 831, [1] was sold to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1925 when NPG 2083 was acquired. What appears to have been a version (‘The poet in this portrait, which is a half-length, wears a large wig, and holds a sprig of laurel in his hand’) belonged to the poet’s descendants, John Driden of Chesterton and the Pigott family, until 1777. [2]

Footnotesback to top

1) Bought from Shepherd Bros. in 1890.
2) E. Malone, Prose Works of John Dryden, I, 1800, p 326; R. Bell, Dryden, English Poets I, 1854, p 97.

Referenceback to top

Piper 1963
D. Piper, Catalogue of the Seventeenth Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery 1625-1714, 1963, p 113.

Stewart 1983
J. D. Stewart, Godfrey Kneller, 1983, no.243.

Provenanceback to top

The Earls of Darnley, Cobham Hall; purchased from the 8th Earl of Darnley by private treaty, February 1925.1

1 I.e. prior to the Darnley sale, Christie’s, 1 May 1925 (the 8th Earl, Ivo Bligh, devised ‘The Ashes’, the cricket trophy for England and Australia).

Exhibitionsback to top

Le Livre Anglais, Bibliothèque nationale, 1951, no.478.

Reproductionsback to top

S. Coignard 1702; M. Vandergucht 1709 lettered ANNO.1693. AETAT:62. (for Dryden’s Virgil).

This extended catalogue entry is from the National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Later Stuart Portraits 1685–1714, National Portrait Gallery, 2009, 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.

View all known portraits for John Dryden

View all known portraits for Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt


Tudor and Elizabethan matching pairs

Test your memory by playing our matching pairs game. Three levels of difficulty make it fun for the whole family.

Test your skill

Regency familiar faces

Rearrange tiles to uncover sitters from the Gallery's Collection by playing our puzzle game.

Play today

Who do you think you were?

Answer a few lifestyle questions about the Elizabethan period and discover your inner Elizabethan!

Start now