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Inscription

falsely signed and dated, lower right: Henrietta Johnston Fecit Ao.1718

Provenance

(Rose M. [Mrs. Augustus] de Forest, New York); sold 29 November 1926 to Thomas B. Clarke [1848-1931], New York, as a portrait of Robert Johnson by Henrietta Johnston;[1] sold by Clarke's executors to (M. Knoedler & Co.), New York, from whom it was purchased 29 January 1936, as part of the Clarke collection, by The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh; gift to NGA, 1947.

Exhibition History
1928
A Loan Exhibition of Paintings by Early American Portrait Painters, The Century Association, New York, 1928, no. 12, as Robert Johnson by Henrietta Johnston.
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 Robert Johnson by Henrietta Johnston.
Bibliography
1927
Willis, Eola. "The First Woman Painter in America." International Studio 87 (July 1927): 13.
1928
Willis, Eola. "Henrietta Johnston, South Carolina Pastellist." Antiquarian 11 (1928): 46, repro.
1932
Sherman Frederick Fairchild. Early American Painting. New York and London, 1932: 14.
1970
American Paintings and Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1970: 160, repro., as Portrait of a Man by American (?).
1980
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1980: 308, as Portrait of a Man by Unknown [Formerly Considered American].
1985
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 411, repro., as Portrait of a Man by Unknown Nationality 18th Century.
1992
Hayes, John. British Paintings of the Sixteenth through Nineteenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1992: 292-293, repro. 293.
Technical Summary

The medium-weight canvas is plain woven; it has been mounted onto wooden composition board. The ground appears to be white. There is possibly a reddish-brown imprimatura. The composition is oval in format; the area outside the oval is painted in light brown. The painting is executed fairly thinly with virtually no impasto. The paint surface has been abraded in the darks, which are extensively repainted; a large tear in the lower right quadrant has been repaired. A fringed muslin cravat, now very abraded, has been painted over the lace cravat. The thick, natural resin varnish has discolored yellow to a moderate degree.