- Extended Catalogue Entry
by James Barry
oil on canvas, circa 1778-1780
23 7/8 in. x 20 7/8 in. (606 mm x 530 mm) oval
Sitterback to top
- Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), Poet, critic and lexicographer. Sitter associated with 50 portraits.
Artistback to top
- James Barry (1741-1806), Painter. Artist associated with 9 portraits, Sitter in 8 portraits.
This portraitback to top
A study for James Barry's mural painting The Distribution of Premiums in the Society of Arts, 1783, which was produced to mark the occasion on which the Society gave out awards for achievement in the arts, manufactures and commerce. Referred to by the artist as 'that venerable sage', Johnson is pictured in the finished work with other members of the Society.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Smartify image discovery app
- Cooper, John, Great Britons: The Great Debate, 2002, p. 20 Read entry
James Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson (1791) was arguably the first British biography. It also demonstrates the power of the medium to secure enduring celebrity for its subjects.
- Eger, Elizabeth; Peltz, Lucy, Brilliant Women: 18th Century Bluestockings, 2008 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 13 March to 15 June 2008), p. 28
- Ingamells, John, National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits 1760-1790, 2004, p. 291
- Ross, Josephine, Jane Austen and her World, 2017, p. 26
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 340
- Uglow, Jenny, Character Sketches: Dr Johnson, His Club and Other Friends, 1998, p. 17
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
Events of 1778back to top
Current affairsCatholic Relief Act is the first to provide a measure of catholic emancipation, modifying the penal laws that effectively prevented Catholics from holding public office. The reform is encouraged by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Mansfield, who had balked at various prosecutions under the statutes now repealed.
Art and scienceFrancis D'Arblay, writing as Fanny Burney, publishes her novel Evelina, or the History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World, in which she satirises contemporary society.
Engineer Joseph Bramah invents a type of flush toilet, replacing the usual slide valve with a hinged flap that seals the bottom of the bowl.
InternationalAmerican War of Independence: France, joining the American colonies in their fight against Britain, sends a large fleet across the Atlantic. The British rapidly abandon Philadelphia. The American naval hero John Paul Jones makes successful raids around the coasts of Britain.
James Cook's third Pacific voyage, aboard the ships HMS Resolution and HMS Discovery, first views Oahu then Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands, which Cook names the Sandwich Islands.