Samuel Johnson

© National Portrait Gallery, London

 Like voting
is closed

Thanks for Liking

Please Like other favourites!
If they inspire you please support our work.

Buy a print Buy a greetings card Make a donation Close

Samuel Johnson

reduced copy after Sir Joshua Reynolds
oil on canvas, mid 19th century, based on a work of circa 1769
17 3/4 in. x 15 1/4 in. (451 mm x 387 mm)
Given by T. Humphry Ward, 1906
Primary Collection
NPG 1445

Sitterback to top

  • Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), Poet, critic and lexicographer. Sitter associated with 50 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), Painter and first President of the Royal Academy. Artist or producer associated with 1424 portraits, Sitter associated with 39 portraits.

This portraitback to top

From early childhood, Johnson suffered from poor eyesight, especially in his left eye, which interfered with his education. There were somewhat contradictory reports about his eyesight from his contemporaries. He appeared to have been near-sighted, yet he did not use eyeglasses. His eyesight became worse with age; still, his handwriting remained quite legible, perhaps out of habit of writing.

Linked publicationsback to top

Events of 1769back to top

Current affairs

Radical John Wilkes is expelled from Parliament once again, on the grounds that he was an outlaw when he was voted in. He is re-elected by his Middlesex constituents, then expelled and re-elected twice more, until Parliament declares his opponent, Henry Luttrell, the winner.
First of 69 anonymous Letters of Junius appears in the Public Advertiser, exposing political corruption. The politician Sir Philip Francis is now believed to have been responsible.

Art and science

Josiah Wedgwood opens his Etruria Works for the manufacture of pottery.
Inventor Richard Arkwright patents a spinning frame able to weave fabric mechanically.
Gordon's London Dry Gin is produced for the first time.
First Royal Academy exhibition is held.
Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage is first published.

International

Captain Cook observes the transit of Venus in Tahiti while his passengers, Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander, collect valuable specimens of Pacific flora. The expedition travels on to New Zealand where Cook begins charting the country's entire coastline.
Treaty of Madras ends the First Anglo-Mysore War but fails to settle dispute.
French inventor Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot tests a steam wagon, probably the first working mechanical vehicle.

Comments back to top

We are currently unable to accept new comments, but any past comments are available to read below.

If you need information from us, please use our Archive enquiry service . Please note that we cannot provide valuations. You can buy a print or greeting card of most illustrated portraits. Select the portrait of interest to you, then look out for a Buy a Print button. Prices start at around £6 for unframed prints, £16 for framed prints. If you wish to license an image, select the portrait of interest to you, then look out for a Use this image button, or contact our Rights and Images service. We digitise over 8,000 portraits a year and we cannot guarantee being able to digitise images that are not already scheduled.