Portrait of Oliver Goldsmith by Sir Joshua Reynolds


This portrait of the novelist and playwright Dr Oliver Goldsmith (1728?–1774) was painted by the foremost portrait artist of the era, Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723–1792). It is one of a pair exhibited at the Royal Academy by Reynolds in 1770; the other likeness was of their mutual friend Dr Samuel Johnson (1709–1784).

Goldsmith, Johnson and Reynolds were key members of a dinner club, known simply as ‘The Club’, a select group of wits and literary luminaries who met regularly at the Turk’s Head tavern in London’s Soho.

Reynolds's sister Fanny (1729–1807) praised the portrait of Goldsmith: ‘Sir Joshua, I have often thought, never exhibited a more striking proof of his excellence in portrait-painting, than in giving dignity to Dr Goldsmith’s countenance, and yet preserving its strong likeness’.[1]

[1] Johnsonian Miscellanies, ed. by G B Hill (London, 1897), Vol. ii, p. 268.

Full title:
Oliver Goldsmith (1728–1774)
c. 1770
Painting / Image
Sir Joshua Reynolds
© National Trust Images by kind permission of the Saville Trustee Company Limited
Usage terms

© National Trust Images by kind permission of the Saville Trustee Company Limited

Held by
National Trust
National Trust Images 129929

Related articles

An introduction to 18th-century British theatre

Article by:
Andrew Dickson
Theatre and entertainment

Andrew Dickson charts the growth of 18th-century theatre, looking at the new venues, stage technology, audiences, playwrights and great actors of the age.

An introduction to She Stoops to Conquer

Article by:
Diane Maybank
Gender and sexuality, Theatre and entertainment, Politeness, sensibility and sentimentalism

Oliver Goldsmith published several critiques of audiences and playwrights before writing a laughing comedy that was the triumph of its season and that continues to be performed today. Diane Maybank introduces She Stoops to Conquer, which uses satire to explore divisions between city and countryside, men and women, and rich and poor.

Related collection items

Related people

Related works

She Stoops to Conquer

Created by: Oliver Goldsmith

She Stoops to Conquer (1773) overview Kenneth Tynan wrote that ‘English drama is a procession of glittering ...