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Famed as the author of the prodigious Dictionary of the English Language (1755), he gained further prestige through the publication of his new edition of Shakespeare (1765) and his travel memoir A Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland (1775). Massive, ungainly, plagued with nervous tics, Johnson was the victim of melancholia and could not bear solitude. He had an immense circle of friends, and was one of the greatest conversationalists of all time. Reynolds founded the Literary Club in 1764 to 'give him unlimited opportunities for talking'. James Boswell's Life, along with other biographies documented Johnson's behaviour and mannerisms in such detail that they have informed the posthumous diagnosis of Tourette syndrome.
oil on canvas
H 60.6 x W 53 cm