Eastman Johnson USA

7-29-1824 Lovell, USA - 5-5-1906 New York, USA

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Johnson, Eastman

The young Eastman Johnson moved to Washington, D.C. at about age 20, supporting himself by making crayon portraits, including John Quincy Adams and Dolly Madison. He returned to New England, settling in Boston in 1846 at the age of 22.

In 1849, Johnson went overseas to Düsseldorf, Germany, for further studies. This had become a new center where many artists, including many Americans, studied art.

Eastman Johnson moved to The Hague, where he studied 17th-century Dutch and Flemish masters. He ended his European travels in Paris, studying with the academic painter Thomas Couture in 1855 before returning to the United States that year due to the death of his mother.

In 1856, he visited his sister Sarah and her family in Superior, Wisconsin. His mixed-race guide Stephen Bonga, who was Ojibwe and African-American, took Johnson among the native Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) in the areas around Superior.

By 1859, Eastman Johnson had returned to the East and established a studio in New York City. He secured his reputation as an American artist that year with an exhibit at the National Academy of Design featuring his painting, Negro Life at the South (1859) or, as it was popularly called, Old Kentucky Home. That year Johnson was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member and became a full Academician in 1860.

Johnson's style is largely realistic in both subject matter and in execution. His charcoal sketches were not strongly influenced by period artists. Later works show influence by the 17th-century Dutch and Flemish masters, and also by Jean-François Millet. Echoes of Millet's The Gleaners can be seen in Eastman Johnson's The Cranberry Harvest, Island of Nantucket, although the emotional tone of the work is far different.

Eastman Johnson's subject matter included portraits of the wealthy and influential, from the President of the United States, to literary figures, to unnamed individuals. He is best known for his paintings of everyday people in everyday scenes. Johnson often repainted the same subject changing style or details.

Movement: Realism, Western American Art
Influences: Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, Thomas Couture
Traveled: Germany, France, Netherlands
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