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Johnson's Literary Club


40 People in sitter grouping:

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.

John Dunning, 1st Baron Ashburton

John Dunning, 1st Baron Ashburton

1731-1783
Solicitor-General
Sitter in 15 portraits
Sir Joseph Banks, Bt

Sir Joseph Banks, Bt

1743-1820
Explorer and botanist
Sitter associated with 35 portraits
Thomas Barnard

Thomas Barnard

1728-1806
Bishop of Limerick
Sitter in 2 portraits
Topham Beauclerk

Topham Beauclerk

1739-1780
Book collector
Sitter in 2 portraits
James Boswell

James Boswell

1740-1795
Biographer of Dr Johnson
Sitter associated with 16 portraits
Sir Thomas Charles Bunbury, 6th Bt

Sir Thomas Charles Bunbury, 6th Bt

1740-1821
High Sheriff of Suffolk, racing administrator and politician; MP for Suffolk
Sitter in 7 portraits
Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke

1729-1797
Statesman; orator; author
Sitter associated with 106 portraits
Richard Burke

Richard Burke

1758-1794
Politician; son of Edmund Burke
Sitter in 2 portraits
Charles Burney

Charles Burney

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

Sir Robert Chambers

1737-1803
Indian judge
Sitter in 1 portrait
Anthony Chamier

Anthony Chamier

1725-1780
Financier and government official
Sitter in 1 portrait
George Colman the Elder

George Colman the Elder

1732-1794
Playwright
Sitter associated with 10 portraits
Samuel Dyer

Samuel Dyer

1725-1772
Writer and translator
Sitter in 4 portraits
George Fordyce

George Fordyce

1736-1802
Physician
Sitter in 1 portrait
Charles James Fox

Charles James Fox

1749-1806
Whig statesman
Sitter associated with 308 portraits
David Garrick

David Garrick

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

Edward Gibbon

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

Oliver Goldsmith

1728-1774
Writer
Sitter in 10 portraits
Sir William Hamilton

Sir William Hamilton

1730-1803
Diplomat and archaeologist
Sitter in 13 portraits

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