About this artwork

Doctor, journalist, railway manager and biographer, Samuel Smiles is best known for his enthusiasm for self-improvement. His celebrated book, Self-Help, was published in 1859. A collection of short biographies of great achievers, Self-Help became a standard school prize in Victorian Britain and, for later generations, a symbol of that era's optimistic values.

  • title: Samuel Smiles, 1812 - 1904. Author and reformer
  • accession number: PG 631
  • artist: Sir George ReidScottish (1841 - 1913)
  • depicted: Samuel Smiles
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Writing and literature
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • date created: 1891
  • measurements: 34.30 x 24.80 cm (framed: 57.50 x 48.00 x 5.00 cm)
  • credit line: Bequeathed by J.M. Gray 1894
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

Sir George Reid

Sir George Reid

Reid was born in Aberdeen and worked first as a lithographer before moving to Edinburgh in 1862 to study at the Trustees' Academy. In 1866, supported by the Aberdeen collector, John Forbes White, he went to Holland to study under the landscape and genre painter, Gerrit Mollinger. He became a close friend of Jozef Israels. He returned to Scotland in 1869, producing landscapes and portraits influenced by both Dutch and French contemporary painting. He was elected President of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1891 and knighted in 1902.