Artist Spotlight: Joshua Johnson

Leading Impression: “Portrait of Mrs. Barbara Baker Murphy (Spouse of Sea Captain)”, ca. 1810

Joshua Johnson (or Johnston) was a painter born in 1763. There have been numerous speculations about his origins, which include if he was even African American at all. Though there had been no records of him getting a former slave, numerous scholars consider that Johnson was biracial and was truthful enough to be mistakenly categorized as not African American. 

“Portrait of Sea Captain John Murphy“, ca. 1810.

As a painter, Johnson markets himself as a self-taught artist, however it is probable that he however obtained some sort of schooling from the Peale family, who dominated the art scene in Baltimore the place Johnson resides. His portrait paintings are flat, rigid, contained specific apparel, and pretty much generally going through the similar way. This is reminiscent of the fashion of Charles Peale Polk, which qualified prospects to the likelihood that Johnston was pretty familiar with his perform and could have primarily based his style on him.

Nonetheless, Johnson is the to start with recorded African American to turn out to be a professional painter, with lots of subsequent his footsteps to this day.

“Sarah Ogden Gustin”, c. 1805.
“Grace Allison McCurdy (Mrs. Hugh McCurdy) and Her Daughters, Mary Jane and Letitia Grace”, c. 1806.