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Samuel Johnson (1709–1784)

© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Dr Johnson's House

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Samuel Johnson was a writer, poet, critic and wit, most famous for his Dictionary of the English Language and for his vivacious character. Sir Joshua Reynolds made several portraits of his good friend Johnson. This is a copy of one of the most famous. Johnson’s characteristic squint was the result of a childhood bout of the ‘King’s Evil’ – tuberculosis of the lymph glands in the neck – which left him with poor sight and hearing. This painting is one of many copies of Sir Joshua Reynolds' portrait, originally commissioned by Henry Thrale for his library at Streatham Park; the original is in the Tate collection.

Dr Johnson's House



oil on canvas


H 94.5 x W 82 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

presented to the Johnson Club, before 1906/1907

Work type



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Normally on display at

Dr Johnson's House

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

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