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James Boswell (1740-1795), Biographer of Dr Johnson

Sitter associated with 16 portraits
Born in Edinburgh in 1740. He was the son of the Laird of Auchinleck, a title he later inherited. In 1762, having qualified as a lawyer, he travelled to London hoping to rub shoulders with 'men of genius' and in particular his literary hero, Samuel Johnson. He realised this ambition the following year when he met Johnson in a Covent Garden bookshop. The two men became close and remained friends until Johnson's death. Boswell is chiefly remembered for his acclaimed Life of Samuel Johnson published in 1791. The use of colloquial language, conversation and short sentences, considered at the time to be characteristic of 'low' forms of literature, helped to bring Johnson's character to life.

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4452

James Boswell

by Sir Joshua Reynolds
oil on canvas, 1785
On display in Room 12 at the National Portrait Gallery
NPG 4452

1675

James Boswell

studio of Sir Joshua Reynolds
oil on canvas, (1785)
NPG 1675

1139

James Boswell

by George Dance
pencil, crayon and wash, 1793
NPG 1139

2755

James Boswell

by Unknown artist, after Sir Thomas Lawrence
pencil and wax crayon on paper, circa 1830-1839 (circa 1790-1795)
NPG 2755

4344

James Boswell

by James Brownlee Hunter, after Sir Joshua Reynolds
monochrome watercolour on paper, late 19th century
NPG 4344

D5416

James Boswell in dress of Corsican chief

by J. Miller, after Samuel Wale
line engraving, published 1769
NPG D5416

D14716

James Boswell

by G.W. Hutin, published by Abraham Wivell, after Sir Joshua Reynolds
stipple engraving, (1785)
NPG D14716

D19988

James Boswell

by and published by John Jones, after Sir Joshua Reynolds
mezzotint, published 17 January 1786 (1785)
NPG D19988

D31998

James Boswell

by William Daniell, after George Dance
soft-ground etching, published 10 April 1802 (28 April 1793)
NPG D31998

D12117

James Boswell

by William Daniell, after George Dance
soft-ground etching, published 10 April 1802 (28 April 1793)
NPG D12117

D14518

'A literary party at Sir Joshua Reynolds's'

by D. George Thompson, published by Owen Bailey, after James William Edmund Doyle
stipple and line engraving, published 1 October 1851
NPG D14518

D20264

James Boswell

by G.W. Hutin, published by Abraham Wivell, after Sir Joshua Reynolds
stipple engraving, (1785)
NPG D20264

D14282

James Boswell

published by John Sewell, after Sir Joshua Reynolds
stipple engraving, published 1787 (1785)
NPG D14282

D17755

Unknown man, possibly James Boswell

by Henry Bone, possibly after Sir Joshua Reynolds
pencil, early 19th century
NPG D17755