Proof before letters

Handsome mezzotint portrait of Samuel Johnson by James Watson after Joshua Reynolds.

London: [printed for Robt. Sayer, map and printseller No. 53 Fleet Street, 10 July 1770]. Slightly trimmed to one-quarter inch outside plate marks, to 17⅝" x 12¾, (approx. 17½" x 12½" by sight); a proof before letters, but which is somewhat toned and laid down on a heavier sheet, and recently professionally framed in 18th-century style (i.e. no mat) using all archival materials & UV plexiglass. Several small abraisions (most rather minute); overall appearance is very good. Not found in The Adams Library of Johnson and Johnsoniana, nor does Boswell include it in his "List of Eighteen" engravings of Johnson, as detailed in The Life. That said, this is the third copy we've handled in the past 25 years, although this is the first proof. This mezzotint is taken from the portrait painted by Reynolds in 1769, of which Johnson said to his step-daughter, Lucy Porter, "I found that my portrait had been much visited and admired. Every man has a lurking wish to appear considerable in his native place, and I was pleased by the dignity conferred by such a testimony of your regard." Item #59336

Price: $1,500.00

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