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'Frontispiece for the 2nd edition of Dr Johnson's letters'

4 of 14 portraits of Hester Lynch Piozzi (née Salusbury, later Mrs Thrale)

'Frontispiece for the 2nd edition of Dr Johnson's letters', by James Sayers, published by  Thomas Cornell, published 7 April 1788 - NPG D9898 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

'Frontispiece for the 2nd edition of Dr Johnson's letters'

by James Sayers, published by Thomas Cornell
etching, published 7 April 1788
9 3/4 in. x 6 7/8 in. (249 mm x 175 mm) plate size; 10 5/8 in. x 7 5/8 in. (269 mm x 194 mm ) paper size
Purchased, 1905
Reference Collection
NPG D9898

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Sittersback to top

Artistsback to top

  • Thomas Cornell (active 1780-1792). Artist associated with 59 portraits.
  • James Sayers (1748-1823), Artist. Artist associated with 191 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.

This portraitback to top

After his death, the figure of Samuel Johnson's ghost appeared several times in satirical images and verse. In this print by James Sayers, Hester Piozzi (1741-1821) turns in alarm at the entry of Johnson's ghost which holds out a purse and points to the pictures on the wall of Boswell and Hawkins. An open book in which she is writing is inscribed, 'Dr J...Leters Dear Lady', implying that Piozzi has made up these letters from Johnson on which she is basing her biography. The inscription below criticises Johnson's chief biographers in turn and, through Johnson's voice, pleads with Piozzi to let him rest.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG D15034: 'Frontispiece for the 2nd edition of Dr Johnson's letters' (from same plate)

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

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