Grapes and a Finch on a Rocky Bank
|Title:||Grapes and a Finch on a Rocky Bank|
|Artist:||Eastman Jonathan Johnson (1824-1906) - American|
|Detail:||Oil on canvas: 30 x 25 ½ in. Frame: 40 x 35 in.) Signed J. Johnson & dated 1869.|
For many years the foremost genre painter in the United States, Eastman Jonathan Johnson (Also known as Jonathan Eastman Johnson*) was among the first American artists of his generation to receive extensive training abroad. Johnson was born in Lovell, Maine, in 1824, and later moved to Washington, D.C. His artistic apprenticeship began in earnest in 1849, when he travelled to Düsseldorf, Germany, and received rigorous training in drawing at that city’s academy. In 1851 he went to London and then relocated to The Hague. His European education ended with several months spent in the Parisian studio of Thomas Couture before the death of his mother brought him home in 1855.
The turning point came in 1859 with the exhibition in New York of his Negro Life in the South (New-York Historical Society). His ambiguous picture resulted in his election as an Associate to the National Academy of Design. For two decades thereafter, Johnson explored themes of national genre. Johnson exhibited widely and was active in the National Academy, the Metropolitan Museum, and the Society of American Artists. He was comfortable in upper-class society, owned a large home in Manhattan, and spent his summers on the island of Nantucket, the scene of many of his paintings. During the last twenty years of his life, his work changed distinctly. Although quite successful in the field of genre painting, he gave it up for unknown reasons and returned to portraiture, the artistic activity of his youth. Able to command extremely large fees, he spent the rest of his life painting the likenesses of prominent gentlemen of New York City, where he died in 1906.
*Smithsonian American Art Museum
Sold Christies, London 17/7/1998, Lot 291, Jonathan Eastman Johnson (1824-1906), Grapes and a finch on a rocky bank.