Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

Monthly Update sign up
Mailing List signup
Search
MENU
HomeSite MapSearch
Slavery
Biography of America logo
Slave Culture Key Events Maps Transcript Webography
something more

Eastman Johnson was born in Maine in 1824, and after some training as a lithographer in Boston, established himself as an itinerant portrait painter based in Portland. As his skills improved, he began receiving commissions for crayon portraits from some of the most distinguished New Englanders including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

In 1848, Johnson decided to travel to Germany to study at the famous Dusseldorf Academy where he met with Emanuel Leutze who was at work on his famous painting, Washington Crossing the Delaware. Several years later, Johnson found himself in the Netherlands, at the Hague. He took an interest in common scenes of daily life and in realistic portraits. On his return to America in 1855 he settled in New York and over the next twenty years executed a series of paintings, including Negro Life in the South (1859), Corn Husking (1860), The Pension Claim Agent (1867) and The Cranberry Harvest, Island of Nantucket (1880).

His paintings told stories about common people in America and captured the rhythms of everyday life. His attention to African Americans in particular earned him praise for demonstrating, as one writer put it in 1867, "the affection, the humor, the patience and serenity which redeem from brutality and ferocity the civilized though subjugated African."



  

© Annenberg Foundation 2014. All rights reserved. Legal Policy