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John Dryden

3 of 31 portraits of John Dryden

John Dryden, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt, based on a work of 1697 -NPG 57 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Later Stuart Portraits Catalogue

John Dryden

after Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt
based on a work of 1697
12 in. x 10 in. (305 mm x 254 mm)
NPG 57

This portraitback to top

Dryden holds a poet’s laurel wreath in his right hand. A reduced copy of uncertain date, possibly from an engraving, of the kit-cat sized portrait in Trinity College, Cambridge, which is signed and dated 1697 and was acquired from Bayfordbury in 1945. [1]
Many versions are known including those at Knole, [2] Rousham (oval), the Bodleian Library, [3] Canons Ashby, from Nuneham Park, [4] and Hinton St George (Sotheby’s, 5 February 1969, lot 22). A replica was sold by the poet’s descendants at Sotheby’s, 21 March 2002, lot 18. A copy was sold Christie’s, 4 December 1970, lot 149A. A bust-length miniature version is at Blenheim, [5] another, inscribed ‘painted in water-colour by George Vertue’, was sold Sotheby’s, 1 March 1990, lot 15. A pen and ink copy by Edward Byng is in the British Museum. [6] A version in pastel, signed ‘G. Luttrell’, is in the Grolier Club, New York. Later versions include the adaptations by Thomas Stothard in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston MA (74.21) and the drawing by William Blake in Manchester City Art Gallery (1885.6).

Footnotesback to top

1) J. D. Stewart, Godfrey Kneller, 1983, pp 65, 67, 68, no.244, pl.III. Engraved G. Edelinck 1700 (published by Tonson in May 1700), J. Faber I (J. Chaloner Smith, British Mezzotinto Portraits, 29), &c.; H. W. Clinton-Baker, Bayfordbury, Christie’s, 8 July 1932, lot 18 (bought in), and again, Christie’s, 1 June 1945, lot 101; exhibited First Special Exhibition of National Portraits ( ... ending with the reign of James the second), South Kensington, 1867, no.1000 lent W. R. Baker, described as having belonged to Jacob Tonson, Dryden’s publisher, but see also NPG 1133 and Connoisseur, CXL, 1957, p 232, where the possibility of it having descended to Bayfordbury through Matthew Prior and the 2nd Earl of Oxford (‘a kit cat size’, Oxford sale, 5th day, 12 March 1742, lot 32, bought V. Guch) is mentioned. Engravings by Vertue 1730 (D. Alexander, ‘George Vertue as an Engraver’, Wal. Soc., LXX, 2008, no.606) and Houbraken 1743 state their original was in the collection of the Earl of Oxford; later James West sale, Langford’s, 27 February 1773, lot 49 (see H. Bunker Wright & H. C. Montgomery, ‘The Art Collection of a Virtuoso in eighteenth-century England’, Art Bulletin, XXVII, 1945, p 200, no.50).
2) C. J. Phillips, History of the Sackville Family, 1929, II, p 439.
3) Mrs R. L. Poole, Catalogue of Portraits in the possession of the University, Colleges, City and County of Oxford, I, p 72, no.178; Catalogue of Portraits in the Bodleian Library by Mrs R. L. Poole completely revised and expanded by K. Garlick, 2004, p 110.
4) Catalogue of Pictures belonging to Lord Harcourt at Nuneham Park, 1806, p 16; Sir George Scharf’s Sketch Books, 75:56; E. W. Harcourt ed., The Harcourt Papers, III, p 250; Christie’s, 11 June 1948, lot 128, oval.
5) Sir George Scharf’s Sketch Books, 58:115; G. Scharf, Catalogue raisonné; or, A List of the Pictures in Blenheim Palace, 1862, p 111; exhibited SKM 1865, no.1696.
6) E. Croft-Murray & P. Hulton, British Museum, Catalogue of British Drawings: XVI and XVII centuries, 1960, p 255 (1897.8.13.22; Byng 7:f.98v).

Referenceback to top

Piper 1963
D. Piper, Catalogue of the Seventeenth Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery 1625-1714, 1963, p 114.

Provenanceback to top

J. W. Hodgson, from whom purchased 1858.


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.

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