About this artwork

Boswell's father feared that his son would be a complete failure. In the summer of 1763, under threat of disinheritance, he was sent to study law in Holland. The young man could not stay put for long and was soon visiting Berlin and Paris, meeting the philosohers Rousseau and Voltaire and befriending Corsican nationalists. He was painted in Rome in 1765. The owl above his head may be a symbol of wisdom, or it may suggest his delight in night-time activities - Boswell had many sexual adventures in Italy. On his return to Britain, he began a lifelong friendship with Samuel Johnson, a relationship immortalised in his biography, the 'Life of Samuel Johnson'. He inherited the title 'Laird of Auchinleck'.

George Willison

George Willison

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