John R. Johnston with Painting

John R. Johnston with Painting

late 1850s

John R. Johnston

(American, 1820-1872)

Salted paper print from wet collodion negative

Image: 20 x 14.8 cm (7 7/8 x 5 13/16 in.); Matted: 50.8 x 40.6 cm (20 x 16 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 2002.39

Description

This compelling self-portrait and the adjacent candid picture of his wife are the most significant and moving images in Johnson's personal photography album containing work by him and other distinguished photographers. For this appealing composition, he seated himself in a plainly appointed studio in front of one of his painted portraits placed on the floor. The position of the chair and his body add vitality to the image. Clearly a master of lighting, Johnson carefully controlled the natural illumination so that his face and hands were in brilliant contrast to his dark clothes and the dimly lit room. In this self-portrait, he successfully expressed both the sitter's strength of personality and character.

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