Boswell’s Introduction to the Literary Club (1856)

Engraving of 'Boswell's Introduction to the Literary Club' by Eyre Crowe (1858)

Engraving of ‘Boswell’s Introduction to the Literary Club’ by Eyre Crowe (1858), by W.H. Simmons, published by Moore of London, c.1862

Medium: oil

Exhibited: Mr Gambart’s Gallery, 120 Pall Mall, 1859; Pall Mall Winter Exhibition, 1861

According to Crowe’s later diary entries, this painting was sold to the art dealer Gambart in 1856, preventing it from being exhibited at the Royal Academy. It was in the collection of Mr Hurst of Rochdale, then auctioned at Christie’s in June 1899 and bought by an art dealer named Nathan Mitchell for 42 guineas (£44 2s 0d). It was auctioned again in London on 21 March 1910, fetching £29 8s 10d.

The Times, 24 Nov 1859:

Mr. Eyre Crowe – among his many pictures illustrative of literary history – has produced nothing of such equal technical merit as his group representing the introduction of Boswell to the Literary Club at the Turk’s Head. The figure of Boswell, delightedly receiving the accolade of the great Samuel, is particularly happy, both in likeness and action. Dr. Johnson is also very faithful to the received idea of the great social and literary dictator. Besides these, the picture embraces portraits of Goldsmith, Burke, Garrick, Sir William Jones, and Reynolds, the latter recognizable only by his ear-trumpet, for the face is untrue to any portrait we have seen of Reynolds at any period of his life. The groups are well composed, and the picture altogether carefully and unaffectedly conscientious.

‘Art in 1860: The British Institution’ – Dublin University Magazine, vol 55, iss 328, April 1860, 477-484

The class of works in the gallery is not a very satisfactory one, and their presence is not likely to do much for British Art… The earliest London exhibition of the year cannot now find from amongst the whole body of English painters, half-a-dozen men of reputation to keep up the character of a place they once delighted to honour… By Eyre Crowe, jun., is “Boswell’s introduction to the Literary Club,” (45), where Johnson receives his mirror-holder with friendly solemnity and impressment. Boswell at the same time in a nervous fidget of delight that is characteristic. Sir Joshua, Goldsmith, and the rest are seated about the table, each true in action to his individuality. We rejoice to see an improvement in solidity of execution in this painter’s work, and trust he will carefully avoid an observable tendency to hardness of surface and dullness of color.

3 Responses to Boswell’s Introduction to the Literary Club (1856)

  1. wolfeeboy says:

    I’ve been researching Nathan Mitchell, and other Edwardian/Victorian dealers, here’s a link to the first few biographies, he’s at the top:-
    I’ll be adding more over time.


  2. Kathryn Summerwill says:

    Thanks for this information!

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