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    Description

    EASTMAN JOHNSON (American, 1824-1906)
    Self-Portrait in the Costume Worn by Him at the Twelfth Night Celebration at the Century Club, 1899
    Oil on canvas mounted on board
    56-1/2 x 43 inches (143.5 x 109.2 cm)
    Signed lower left: E. Johnson

    PROVENANCE:
    Mrs. Eastman Johnson;
    The American Art Galleries Auction, 1907;
    Sebron Shields, Detroit, Michigan;
    Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1967;
    Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Coffey, Birmingham, Michigan, 1971;
    Kennedy Gallery, New York;
    Private collection, Dallas.

    LITERATURE:
    Catalog of Finished Pictures, Studies and Drawings by the Late Eastman Johnson, N.A., New York, The American Art Association, 1907, illus. frontispiece;
    New York Daily Tribune, Sunday, February 24, 1907, illus.;
    J.T. Flexner, The World of Winslow Homer: 1836-1910, New York, 1966, p.51, illus.;
    P. Hills, Eastman Johnson, New York, 1972, p. 116, illus.;
    J.I.H. Baur, Eastman Johnson, 1824-1906: An American Genre Painter, Brooklyn, 1940;
    P. Hills, The Genre Painting of Eastman Johnson: The Sources and Development of his Style and Themes, New York, 1977;
    A.C. Rose, "Eastman Johnson and the Culture of American Individualism," in T. Carbone and P. Hills, Eastman Johnson: Painting America, exh. cat., Brooklyn Museum of Art, 2000, fig. 108 (illus. black and white, private collection), p. 232.

    Eastman Johnson grew up in Augusta, Maine, and received his first artistic training as an apprentice for a lithographer in Boston. He returned to his home state, determined to establish himself as a portrait draftsman. Shortly thereafter he set his sights on Washington, D.C., as a place where he could develop his portrait career capturing the likenesses of distinguished Americans active in the capital. Cleverly, he set up his portrait studio in a U.S. Senate conference room where many of his early sitters, including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Quincy Adams, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Daniel Webster, came to have their likenesses drawn.

    To develop his skills even further, Johnson traveled to The Hague to learn the methods and techniques of the Dutch and Flemish masters Rembrandt and Van Dyck. Ever the sophisticate, while in the Netherlands Johnson often dressed as a 17th-century Dutch burgher when attending society events, a practice that earned him the moniker, the "American Rembrandt." The four years in Europe had a dramatic effect on Johnson's work, which was also extremely Rembrandtesque. He began using a more refined palette and exhibiting a freer handling of paint.

    Once back in the United States, influenced by his Dutch experience, Johnson began painting more domestic and genre scenes, while maintaining his reputation for single and group portraits. In 1880, he returned to portraiture almost exclusively. Usually his subjects were wealthy patrons displayed amidst their elaborate furnishings and in their expensive costumes. His self-portraits and portraits of his close friends are among his finest works. Of the two dozen self-portraits Johnson painted, Patricia Hills notes this one, "is clearly the best in terms of its presence, panache, and the authority of its painting handling."

    In her essay for the catalog accompanying the traveling Eastman Johnson exhibition mounted by the Brooklyn Museum in 2000, Anne C. Rose wrote of this self-portrait: "He [Johnson] showed himself in the Elizabethan clothes that he wore to a party at The Century Association in New York. A member since 1862, he socialized with the city's important men, and his art repeated a message they approved: An educated citizenry promised orderly progress."

    This painting will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné being compiled by Patricia Hills.


    Condition Report*: Canvas has been laid on board, 3 x 1 inch area of old repair right of collar, 1/2 inch spot of inpainting in hat left of eye, two 3 inch vertical lines of inpainting five inches from center left edge, scattered areas of strengthening along left arm and right edge of jacket, 1/2 x 1 inch area of inpainting lower left corner that does not affect the signature, 4 inch horizontal area of strengthening center bottom edge, 1 x 1 inch area of strengthening along right edge in lower half of the painting, minor frame abrasion along upper edge.  Handsome thick gilt wood frame, ready to hang.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2008
    20th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,201

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

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