Mrs. John R. Johnston

Mrs. John R. Johnston

before 1857

John R. Johnston

(American, 1820-1872)

Salted paper print from wet collodion negative

Image: 18.8 x 15.1 cm (7 3/8 x 5 15/16 in.); Paper: 18.8 x 16.7 cm (7 3/8 x 6 9/16 in.); Matted: 50.8 x 40.6 cm (20 x 16 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 2002.38



Active in the worlds of theather and music, Johnson was also a distinguished portrait painter, a remarkable photographer, and one of the supreme colorists of photographs. By the mid 1850s, he resided in Baltimore where he associated with Jesse H. Whitefurst, how was better known than Matthew Brady and one of the most important studio operators at that time.

This portrait is a tour-de-force of personal expression, both on the part of the sitter and artist. In the angled three-quarter-length pose, Mrs. Johnson, with head tilted, gazes directly toward the camera's lens. For the period, this portrait was extraordinarily spontaneous and informal, personal and sensual. Adding to the photograph's distinction, Johnson printed his wet collodion negative on salted paper, a rarity in early American photography.

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