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40 People in sitter grouping: Johnson's Literary Club

Known as Johnson’s Literary Club, The Literary Club and simply The Club during its lifetime, this society was originally set up by the artist Joshua Reynolds in 1764, to provide Samuel Johnson with ready conversation and dining company. The group would meet once a week for supper and debate at the Turks Head tavern in Soho, London, often talking and drinking into the early hours. Consisting of 9 members in 1764, the group quickly expanded to a membership of 12, 16 and then 21, much to Johnson’s distaste, which was particularly aimed at the intake of Whig politicians. By 1783 the number had risen again to 35, and Johnson and other older members began dining ever more infrequently, disagreeing with the new company. Shortly before his death, in 1783 Johnson established The Essex Head Club, a smaller and more exclusive set of diners, which would be disbanded by the late 1780s. The original Literary Club however, would survive Johnson’s death, with a flourishing membership reaching approximately 50 members by the late 20th century.

Oliver Goldsmith

1728-1774
Writer
Sitter in 10 portraits

Sir William Hamilton

1730-1803
Diplomat and archaeologist
Sitter in 13 portraits

Sir John Hawkins

1719-1789
Writer
Sitter in 5 portraits

Sir William Jones

1746-1794
Orientalist and jurist
Sitter in 5 portraits

Bennet Langton

1737-1801
Scholar and friend of Dr Johnson
Sitter in 2 portraits

Charles Bingham, 1st Earl of Lucan

1735-1799
Irish Peer and politician.
Sitter in 6 portraits

Edmond Malone

1741-1812
Critic and editor of Shakespeare
Sitter in 4 portraits

Richard Marlay

circa 1728-1802
Bishop of Waterford; Dean of Ferns
Sitter in 1 portrait

Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston

1784-1865
Prime Minister
Sitter associated with 141 portraits

Thomas Percy

1729-1811
Editor of the 'Reliques of Ancient English Poetry' and bishop of Dromore
Sitter in 3 portraits

Richard Brinsley Sheridan

1751-1816
Dramatist and parliamentary orator
Sitter associated with 162 portraits

Jonathan Shipley

1714-1788
Bishop of St Asaph
Sitter in 6 portraits

Adam Smith

1723-1790
Political economist
Sitter in 6 portraits

George John Spencer, 2nd Earl Spencer

1758-1834
First Lord of the Admiralty
Sitter associated with 30 portraits

George Steevens

1736-1800
Commentator on Shakespeare
Sitter in 11 portraits

William Scott, Baron Stowell

1745-1836
Judge
Sitter in 5 portraits

John Fitzpatrick, 2nd Earl of Upper Ossory

1745-1818
Irish Peer and MP for Bedfordshire
Sitter associated with 5 portraits

Joseph Warton

1722-1800
Literary critic
Sitter in 4 portraits

Thomas Warton the Younger

1728-1790
Literary historian; critic and poet
Sitter in 4 portraits

Hon. William Windham

1750-1810
Politician; Secretary at War
Sitter associated with 50 portraits