JOHNSON, SAMUEL. 1709-1784.
Portrait by WILLIAM DOUGHTY [1758-1782] after SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS [1723-1792], 17¾ x 13 inch (sight size) mezzotint, entitled, "Samuel Johnson, L.L.D," dated June 24, 1793, matted and framed to 22 x 17 inches. Minor spotting visible at lower margin, unexamined outside of frame.
Reynolds painted five portraits of Johnson over the thirty years of their friendship. This portrait, painted by Reynolds in 1772/1778, depicts Johnson of the Club, full-wigged, the lips parted as if in the act of speaking. It was probably painted for the library of Henry Thrale's house at Streatham. Johnson wrote of it to Mrs. Thrale saying that Sir Joshua "seems to like his own performance," Hawkins said that the portrait "scraped in mezzotint by Doughty, is extremely like ... there is in it that appearance of a labouring, working mind, of an indolent reposing body, which he had to a very great degree."
When Boswell dedicated his Life of Johnson to Reynolds, he prefaced it with a letter of dedication: "You, my dear Sir, studied him, and knew him well: you venerated and admired him. Yet, luminous as he was on the whole, you perceived all the shades which mingled in the grand composition; all the little peculiarities and slight blemishes which marked the literary colours." See James Boswell, Life of Johnson, edited by Hill and Powell, 1979; The Letters of Samuel Johnson, edited by Bruce Redford, 1992; David Mannings, Sir Joshua Reynolds: A Complete Catalogue of his Paintings, 2 volumes, 2000.