Portrait of Laurence Sterne by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1760


This intriguing portrait of Laurence Sterne was made in 1760, soon after the first two volumes of Tristram Shandy were published. It was painted by Joshua Reynolds (1723–1792) – the leading British portrait artist of the day – reflecting Sterne’s meteoric rise from a country clergyman to a celebrity author.

Sterne had published his novel anonymously, but he clearly enjoyed the fame it quickly brought him. In the painting he wears cleric’s robes, but he has the self-assurance of a well-respected writer, and some of the knowing irony of his hero, Tristram Shandy.

Full title:
Laurence Sterne by Sir Joshua Reynolds, oil on canvas, 1760
Painting / Image
Sir Joshua Reynolds
© National Portrait Gallery, London
Held by
National Portrait Gallery
NPG 5019

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