Portrait of Jonathan Swift c. 1718

Description

This portrait of Jonathan Swift, Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin and author of Gulliver’s Travels, was painted by Charles Jervas in around 1718 when Swift was about 41 years old.

Swift is shown seated at his writing table, wearing his clerical robes and collar. He holds a leaf of paper and a quill in his hands. Although Swift’s clothing signifies his religious calling, the writing materials and books behind him – works by Aesop, Horace and Lucian – emphasise his other vocation as a man of letters, and provide literary precedence for his works of didactic social and political satire.

Full title:
Jonathan Swift by Charles Jervas oil on canvas, circa 1718
Created:
c. 1718
Format:
Painting / Image
Creator:
Charles Jervas
Copyright:
© National Portrait Gallery
Usage terms

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Held by
National Portrait Gallery
Shelfmark:
NPG 278

Related articles

An introduction to Gulliver’s Travels

Article by:
John Mullan
Themes:
Satire and humour, Travel, colonialism and slavery, Politics and religion, Rise of the novel

Jonathan Swift initially did his best to conceal the fact that he was the author of Gulliver's Travels. John Mullan explores how Swift constructed the work to operate as an elaborate game, parodying travel literature, pretending to be an autobiography and containing obviously false facts presented by a deeply unreliable narrator.

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