Johnson as Icon

"Whoever is delighted with his own picture must derive his pleasure from the pleasure of another. Every man is always present to himself, and has, therefore, little need of his own resemblance, nor can desire it, but for the sake of those whom he loves, and by whom he hopes to be remembered."

The Idler, No. 45

In this section

Photograph Tradesmen's Tokens Depicting Samuel Johnson. 1793, 1796,
and undated.

Josiah Wedgwood & Sons. Samuel Johnson portrait medallion. 1784. Jasperware. Photograph
Photograph Shortly Will Be Published, (By Subscription) a Portrait of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. [London: A. Wivell, 1815]

William Thomas Fry, after Abraham Wivell. Samuel Johnson, L.L.D. … From the Original Bust by Joseph Nollekens. [London: A. Wivell, 1815] Photograph
Photograph Incidents in the Life of Dr. Johnson. London: R.S. Cartwright, [ca. 1900] *2008-1928

A. Edward Newton. Wit and Wisdom of Dr. Johnson and His Friends. Philadelphia: Edward Stern & Co., 1908. Calendar. Photograph
Photograph Percy Hetherington Fitzgerald. Samuel Johnson (1910) and James Boswell (1908) Peter Ustinov. Prop Samuel Johnson Letter. 1957. Manuscript.


Items Not Pictured In This Section

  • Miguel Covarrubias. Impossible Interview: Dr. Johnson and Alexander Woollcott. 1935. Gouache on paper. *2003JM-21

    A long-running series in Vanity Fair paired Miguel Covarrubias’s (1904-1957) instantly recognizable caricatures of two unlikely companions with John Riddell’s (1902-1969) imagined dialogue between them. This installment, from the March 1935 issue, brings Johnson together with the critic and Algonquin Round Table wit Alexander Woollcott (1887-1943).

  • Micromodels, Ltd. Doctor Johnson’s House, 17 Gough Square. Papercraft model. 1949. MS Hyde 100

    In the 1940s and 50s, the popular Micromodels line of paper model kits included trains, ships, and buildings ranging from Stonehenge to St. Paul’s Cathedral. This particular kit offered a landmark more famous for its literary significance than its architectural merit, the house in Gough Square where Johnson wrote the Dictionary.

  • Barclay Perkins & Co. Beer Bottle Labels Depicting Samuel Johnson. 1950. MS Hyde 100

    After Henry Thrale’s death in 1781, Johnson, acting as an executor of Thrale’s will, negotiated the sale of his Anchor Brewery to the newly created firm of Barclay Perkins & Co. (Perkins having been the manager of the brewery under Thrale’s ownership). Barclay Perkins, which endured until a 1955 merger with Courage, honored its connection to Johnson by placing his portrait on its labels.