George Frank Stephens [1859-1935], the artist's brother-in-law; Roger Stephens, the artist's nephew, by 20 December 1944; (E. & A. Milch, Inc., New York); (M. Knoedler & Co., New York), 1960; sold 10 January 1961 to Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, Upperville, Virginia; gift 1985 to NGA.
- Thomas Eakins: A Retrospective Exhibition, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; The Art Institute of Chicago; Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1961-1962, no. 30.
- American Art from Alumni Collections, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, 1968, no. 97, repro.
- Gifts to the Nation: Selected Acquisitions from the Collections of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1986, unnumbered checklist
- Thomas Eakins Rediscovered, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, 1991-1992, no cat.
- The Birth of the Banjo, Katonah Museum of Art, New York, 2003-2004, unnumbered catalogue.
- Picturing the Banjo, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Palmer Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park; The Boston Athenaeum, 2005-2006, unnumbered catalogue, fig. 99.
The fabric support has been mounted to a five-ply wood pulp paperboard, but remnants of paper tape along the perimeter suggest that it was at one time on a stretcher. The white ground was covered with beige paint at the left and reddish brown on the right, upon which the figure and background were fluidly painted using a wet-into-wet technique. A grid was scored into the dry paint with a palette knife, leaving jagged edges in the more thickly painted passages. The painting is in good condition. The varnish has not discolored.
- Goodrich, Lloyd. Thomas Eakins: His Life and Work. New York, 1933: 172, no. 125.
- Hoopes, Donelson F. Eakins Watercolors. New York, 1971: 44, repro. 46.
- Goodrich, Lloyd. Thomas Eakins. 2 vols. Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1982: 1:repro. 110 (fig.47).
- Wilmerding, John. American Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art. Rev. ed. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1988: 130, repro.
- Honour, Hugh. The Image of the Black in Western Art. 4 vols. Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1989: 4:189.
- American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 166, repro.
- 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: 167-172, color repro.