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Johnson (1709–1784), Doing Penance in the Market Place of Uttoxeter, Staffordshire

Photo credit: Dr Johnson's House

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This large painting depicts a famous episode of public repentance. When Samuel Johnson’s father Michael fell ill, he asked Johnson (then in his teenage years) if he would attend to the family bookstall in Uttoxeter market. Johnson refused. In later life, he said, ‘Pride was the source of that refusal, and the remembrance of it was painful. A few years ago I desired to atone for this fault. I went to Uttoxeter in very bad weather and stood for a considerable time bareheaded in the rain on the spot where my father’s stall used to stand.

Dr Johnson's House


  • Date


  • Medium

    oil on canvas

  • Measurements

    152 x 184 cm

  • Accession number


Normally on display at

Dr Johnson's House

17 Gough Square, London, Greater London EC4A 3DE England

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