20 of 50 portraits of Samuel Johnson
by James Sayers, published by Thomas Cornell
etching, published June 1786
10 3/4 in. x 7 5/8 in. (273 mm x 194 mm) plate size; 11 5/8 in. x 8 3/8 in. (295 mm x 214 mm) paper size
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Sittersback to top
- James Boswell (1740-1795), Biographer of Dr Johnson. Sitter associated with 16 portraits.
- John Courtenay (1738-1816), Politician and army officer. Sitter associated with 14 portraits.
- Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), Poet, critic and lexicographer. Sitter associated with 50 portraits.
- Hester Lynch Piozzi (née Salusbury, later Mrs Thrale) (1741-1821), Writer and friend of Dr Johnson. Sitter in 14 portraits.
Artistsback to top
This portraitback to top
In this print a bust of Johnson looks down on the three biographers with displeasure. The inscription makes reference to Piozzi's Anecdotes of the Late Samuel Johnson (1786), Boswell's Journal of aTour to the Hebrides (1785), in which Johnson is compared to a bear, and Courtenay's Politic Review of the Literary Character of the late S. Johnson (1786).
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- The Life and Lives of Dr Johnson (18 July 2009 - 14 December 2009)
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1786back to top
Current affairsPhilosopher and politician Edmund Burke instigates impeachment proceedings against Warren Hastings, former Governor-General of Bengal after concerns about the moral standards of the British in India are raised. Prime Minister William Pitt appoints commissioners for the reduction of the national debt and establishes a sinking fund of £1 million a year. Government approves the establishment of a penal colony at Botany Bay.
Art and scienceRobert Burns publishes Poems Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect bringing him immediate success across the country. Engraver and publisher John Boydell initiates plans for his Shakespeare Gallery in an effort to establish a school of British history painting. Merchant David Dale establishes New Lanark in South Lanarkshire, Scotland, as a model cotton milling community.
InternationalGeneral Charles Cornwallis succeeds Warren Hastings as Governor-General in India. Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Marriage of Figaro premieres in Vienna. Francisco Goya is appointed court painter to the Spanish king Charles III.
- Portrait of the Day: Hester Lynch Piozzi (née Salusbury, later Mrs Thrale)
30 September, 12:30