Portrait of John Gay by William Aikman, c. 1720


This atmospheric oil painting shows John Gay (1685‒1732), the dramatist and poet, wearing a soft velvet cap, dark jacket and white collar. The picture portrays the author around 1720, some time before he reached the height of his fame with The Beggar’s Opera (1728).

This is one of several portraits of Gay by the Scottish artist, William Aikman (1682‒1731). Close up, you can see the diagonal weave of the canvas across the face, shirt collar and hat.

Full title:
John Gay, 1685–1732. Poet and dramatist
c. 1720
Painting / Image
William Aikman [artist], Antonia Reeve [photographer]
Usage terms

National Galleries of Scotland

Held by
National Galleries of Scotland
PG 718

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