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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.

Samuel Johnson

1709-1784
Poet, critic and lexicographer
Sitter associated with 50 portraits

Sir Joshua Reynolds

1723-1792
Painter and first President of the Royal Academy
Sitter associated with 38 portraits | Artist associated with 1413 portraits

John Dunning, 1st Baron Ashburton

1731-1783
Solicitor-General
Sitter in 14 portraits

Sir Joseph Banks, Bt

1743-1820
Explorer and botanist
Sitter associated with 35 portraits

Thomas Barnard

1728-1806
Bishop of Limerick
Sitter in 2 portraits

Topham Beauclerk

1739-1780
Book collector
Sitter in 2 portraits

James Boswell

1740-1795
Biographer of Dr Johnson
Sitter associated with 16 portraits

Sir Thomas Charles Bunbury, 6th Bt

1740-1821
MP for Suffolk, high sheriff and racing administrator
Sitter in 6 portraits

Edmund Burke

1729 or 1730-1797
Statesman
Sitter associated with 103 portraits

Richard Burke

1758-1794
Politician and son of Edmund Burke
Sitter in 2 portraits

Charles Burney

1726-1814
Musician and historian of music
Sitter in 10 portraits

Sir Robert Chambers

1737-1803
Indian judge
Sitter in 1 portrait

Anthony Chamier

1725-1780
Financier and government official
Sitter in 1 portrait

James Caulfeild, 1st Earl of Charlemont

1728-1799
Irish statesman
Sitter in 11 portraits

George Colman the Elder

1732-1794
Playwright
Sitter associated with 10 portraits

Samuel Dyer

1725-1772
Writer and translator
Sitter in 4 portraits

George Fordyce

1736-1802
Physician
Sitter in 1 portrait

Charles James Fox

1749-1806
Whig statesman
Sitter associated with 299 portraits

David Garrick

1717-1779
Actor, playwright and theatre manager
Sitter associated with 56 portraits

Edward Gibbon

1737-1794
Historian; author of 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'
Sitter in 14 portraits