Dr Johnson’s House was restored in 1911, having had a variety of uses since the writer, lexicographer and wit, Samuel Johnson, was a tenant here. Over the past 100 years the house has built up a collection of furniture, books, manuscripts, prints and paintings, most of which are on permanent display in the historic interiors.
The collection of oil paintings is small but pertinent to the house and its most famous tenant. The Collection includes a number of eighteenth-century portraits of Johnson and key acquaintances including a rare depiction of the editor of the Gentleman’s Magazine, Edward Cave. In addition, there are portraits of Johnson’s fellow residents in the House, including a depiction of a black man, alleged to be Johnson’s servant, the former slave Francis Barber, and a sensitive portrayal of the blind poetess, Anna Williams by Frances Reynolds. The Collection also contains a number of later works showing remarkable scenes from Johnson’s life, one of the most notable being by William Powell Frith.