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Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

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

1765
Drawing by Angelica Kauffmann, half length, hands in a muff. Victoria and Albert Museum (Vallardi sketchbook, E.387.1927; illus. Hommage an Angelika Kauffmann, Vaduz/Milan, 1992-93, p 25), provisionally, but plausibly, identified as Boswell, who visited Kauffmann in Rome with Dance on 18 February 1765 (see P. Walch, Burlington Magazine, CXIX, 1977, p 108, no.43).

Painting by George Willison, three-quarter length. Scottish NPG (PG 804). Executed in Rome. Possibly the portrait of Boswell by Batoni listed at Auchinleck in 1767 (A. M. Clark, ed E. P. Bowron, Pompeo Batoni, 1985, p 369).

A miniature made in Rome at the same time, ‘painted by [James] Alves from a large portrait done by Willison’, now untraced, was being sent to Scotland in July 1765 (J. Dennistoun, Memoirs of Sir Robert Strange, 1855, II, p 33).

Painting by Thomas Patch. ‘Patch has by this time encanvass’d you, and I dare say made us so ridiculous as his Genius will admit’ (Godfrey Bagnall to Boswell, Milan, 17 August 1765; J. Ingamells, Dictionary of British and Itish Travellers in Italy 1701-1800, compiled form the Brinsley Ford Archive 1997, p 108).

1769
Drawing by Samuel Wale, engraved by J. Miller, full length in the dress of an armed Corsican Chief, as he appeared at the Stratford Shakespeare Jubilee (illus. Boswell, NPG, 1967, no.26).

1785
Painting by Joshua Reynolds, see NPG 4452, NPG 1675 and NPG 4344.

c.1790-95
Pen and wash drawing by George Langton, whole-length standing. Gunby Hall (illus. Country Life, XCIV, 1943, p 863). Engraved E. Finden 1839.

c.1790-95
Drawing by Thomas Lawrence, see NPG 2755.

1792
Miniature by W. Hanneman, exhibited RA 1792 (248).

1793
Drawing by George Dance, see NPG 1139.

Posthumous
1908
Bronze statue by Percy Fitzgerald. Lichfield Market Place. Fitzgerald also included a medallion of Boswell on his statue of Samuel Johnson, St Clements Danes, London, dated 1910. A crudely-modelled and unattributed bust is at Auchinleck (illus. I. Finlayson, Moth and the Candle, 1984, p 262).

Doubtful Portraits
Painting attributed to Henry Singleton, called Boswell and his Family (Scottish NPG (PG 1250); a closely related drawing, attributed to J. T. Smith, called Boswell and his Family (Yale Center for British Art, B1977.14.5145; from the L. G. Duke collection, Sotheby’s, 11 March 1971, lot 51 as Lawrence, a study for a family group). Pen and ink caricature by Lawrence (private collection; illus. Boswell, NPG, 1967, no.101) cannot show Boswell; see Edward Gibbon.


This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits 1760-1790, National Portrait Gallery, 2004, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.