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Inscription

lower left, damaged from fabric being folded over smaller stretcher: E.J.

Provenance

Elizabeth B. Johnson, the artist's widow, New York; sold 20 June 1909 to Thomas B. Clarke [1848-1931], New York;[1] his estate; sold as part of the Clarke collection 29 January 1936, through (M. Knoedler & Co., New York), to The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh; gift 1947 to NGA.

Exhibition History
1921
Exhibition of Paintings by Early American Portrait Painters, The Union League Club, New York, December 1921, no. 7, as John Wesley Harper.
1928
Portraits by Early American Artists of the Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, Collected by Thomas B. Clarke, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1928-1931, unnumbered and unpaginated catalogue, as John Wesley Harper.
1967
Loan for display with permanent collection, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C., 1967-1980.
Bibliography
1928
Portraits by Early American Artists of the Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, Collected by Thomas B. Clarke. Exh. cat. Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1928, unnumbered.
1940
Baur, John I.H. Eastman Johnson, 1824-1906: An American Genre Painter. Exh. cat. The Brooklyn Museum, 1940: 68, no. 196.
1952
Rutledge and Lane 1952, 128.
1970
American Paintings and Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1970: 74, repro.
1980
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1980: 184, repro.
1992
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 213, repro.
1996
Kelly, Franklin, with Nicolai Cikovsky, Jr., Deborah Chotner, and John Davis. American Paintings of the Nineteenth Century, Part I. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1996: 382-384, repro.
Technical Summary

The support, a medium-weight, plain-weave fabric, has been restretched onto a smaller stretcher, resulting in its having been folded over some 7 to 20 cm on the sides and bottom. The painting has not been lined. The whitish ground, which was applied prior to stretching, is covered in some areas with a dark, transparent brown tone. This brown shows through the sub sequent paint applied to the face, leaving a patchy, dark impression. The paint layers in the background and the coat were applied rapidly and thinly, with a pronounced brushiness. The area of the face shows discrete touches of relatively high impasto that do not completely cover the fine underdrawing executed probably in pencil. There is minor, scattered inpainting on the sitter's right cheek and in the left background. The varnish has become some what discolored.