11 of 50 portraits of Samuel Johnson
by Samuel William Reynolds, after Sir Joshua Reynolds
9 in. x 6 1/2 in. (228 mm x 165 mm) plate size; 11 5/8 in. x 8 5/8 in. (296 mm x 220 mm) paper size
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- Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), Poet, critic and lexicographer. Sitter associated with 50 portraits.
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The diagnosis of Tourette syndrome two hundred years after Johnson's death became widely accepted. During Johnson's lifetime the condition was unknown but Boswell describes Johnson displaying signs of Tourette Syndrome including tics and other involuntary movements. According to Boswell 'he commonly held his head to one side ... moving his body backwards and forwards, and rubbing his left knee in the same direction, with the palm of his hand ... [H]e made various sounds' like 'a half whistle' or 'as if clucking like a hen', and '... all this accompanied sometimes with a thoughtful look, but more frequently with a smile.'