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, Johnston was also a distinguished portrait painter, a remarkable photographer, and one of the supreme photo colorists. By the mid-1850s, he resided in Baltimore where he associated with Jesse H. Whitefurst, who 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 the artist. In the angled three-quarter-length pose, Mrs. Johnston, 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, Johnston printed his wet collodion negative on salted paper, a rarity in early American photography.

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