- Museum number
- Object: Apollo and the Muses, inflicting penance on Dr Pomposo, round Parnassus.
Dr. Johnson, a rope round his neck, is bring driven from left to right by Apollo and the nine muses, who follow him with uplifted scourges and birch rods. Johnson is clad only in breeches, shoes, and stockings; on his head is a dunce's cap shaped like a four-sided pyramid, on this is inscribed the names of poets whose lives he had written: 'Milton', 'Otway', 'Waller', 'Gray', 'Shenston[e]', 'Lyttelton', 'Gay', 'Denman', 'Collins &c. &c. &c.' Over his shoulder he carries a placard inscribed, 'For defaming that Genius I could never emulate, by criticism without Judgment; - and endeavouring to cast the beauties of British Poetry into the hideous shade of oblivion.' A tear falls from his eye and he is saying, 'I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sins are ever before me'; an asterisk indicates a note in the margin: 'Vide The Last Sermon at St Dunstans'. Apollo and the Muses wear classical draperies and laurel wreaths; Apollo holds the end of the rope which is round Johnson s neck; his head is surrounded by a halo. Above the ground by Johnson (right) are two books, each with a pair of wings, in full flight: 'An Essay on the Milk of Human kindness dedicated to Dr Johnson as a Man', and 'An Essay on Envy dedicated to Dr Johnson as an Author'.
Clouds and a rocky mountain form the background. On the summit of the mountain is a small circular temple behind which is the sun; Pegasus flies near the summit. 29 July 1783
- Production date
Height: 270 millimetres
Width: 330 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', V, 1935)
This is the print which was being discussed at Sir Joshua Reynolds's when Johnson entered, and being told of the caricature, said to Dr. Farr: 'Sir I am very glad to hear this. I hope the day will never arrive when I shall neither be the object of calumny or ridicule, for then I shall be neglected and forgotten.' 'Johnsonian Miscellanies', ii. 419-20. Churchill had called Johnson Pomposo in 'The Ghost', 1762. See also BMSat 6103.
This print (presumably) appears, price 2s., in the 'Catalogue' appended to Jordan's 'Elixir of Life . . .' published by W. Holland, 50 Oxford Street, 1789 as 'Apollo and the Muses whipping Dr Johnson round Parnassus'.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1984/5 Nov-Feb, London, BL, 'Dr Johnson'
1986 Jan-Mar, London, Royal Academy, 'Sir Joshua Reynolds'
2009 Aug-Nov BM, P&D, Samuel Johnson in Prints
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number