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Sir Joshua Reynolds
Samuel Johnson
ca. 1756
National Portrait Gallery, London
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JOHNSON AND ART
by Charlie Finch



The tercentenary of the birth of first great modernist, Samuel Johnson, has nearly passed with far less comment than might have been expected for the lexicographer known as "Dictionary Johnson," the man known as the Rambler whose essays anticipated Thoreau, James Baldwin and Joan Didion, the urban man in whose dwelling lived a black man, a blind woman, a crazy medicine man and the cat Hodge, the first subject of gossip who understood that table talk is the basis of morality, the greatest subject in the English language of the first true modern biography, produced by his protégé Bozzy, James Boswell.

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