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The celebrated actress Sarah Siddons specialised in tragic roles, which helped her maintain a dignity and good reputation. She met writer, critic and wit Samuel Johnson near the end of his life and the episode was the inspiration for this painting by Frith. When there was no chair in Johnson's house for the actress he remarked with charm: ‘Madam, you who so often occasion a want of seats to other people, will the more easily excuse the want of one yourself.
oil on canvas
77.7 x 60.5 cm