Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue
James Thomson (1700-1748), Poet
'Our author himself hints, somewhere in his works, that his exterior was not the most promising; his make being rather robust than graceful: though it is known that in his youth he had been thought handsome. His worst appearance was, when you saw him walking alone, in a thoughtful mood: but let a friend accost him, and enter into conversation, he would instantly brighten into a most amiable aspect, his features no longer the same, and his eye darting a peculiar animated fire.’ 
Johnson wrote, 'Thomson was of stature above middle size, and "more fat than bard beseems", of a dull countenance, and a gross, unanimated, uninviting appearance ...'. 
Footnotesback to top
Referencesback to topJohnson 1854
S. Johnson, Lives of the Poets, ed. P. Cunningham, 1854.
P. Murdoch, 'The Life of Mr James Thomson', Works of James Thomson, 1762.
Rice and McIntyre 1957
D. Talbot Rice and P. McIntyre, The University Portraits, Edinburgh, 1957.
Times Literary Supplement, 1942.
This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Kerslake, Early Georgian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1977, 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.