Consultant for Eastman Johnson Project

Consultant for Eastman Johnson Project

Erik works as European Consultant for the Eastman Johnson Catalogue Raisonné Project directed by dr. Patricia Hills, professor emerita of Boston University. Erik set up and executed a PR strategy to find Eastman Johnson paintings in private collections, does archival and desk research, makes translations and sets up and maintains contact with owners of works by Eastman Johnson in the Netherlands and abroad. 

Eastman Johnson (1824-1906) was a leading genre and portrait painter of the middle-to-late 19th century. He was born in Maine and began his career as a portrait draughtsman, working in Maine, Washington DC, and Boston. In 1849 he went to Europe to learn to paint and study the Old Masters. He stayed two years in Düsseldorf, and then moved to The Hague where he established himself as a portrait painter. In these 4 years he studied the Old Dutch masters and made this style his own, which led him to receive the nickname ‘the American Rembrandt’ already during his lifetime.

American artist

Today Johnson is seen as a painter who brought more sophisticated painting techniques to America, who extended the range of ‘American’ subjects, often transforming traditional European themes, and who brought a more dignified and democratic content to genre painting. His work can be admired in prominent museum such as the Metropolitan in New York, of which he was a co-founder, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC.

The Eastman Johnson Catalogue Raisonné will aid scholars, curators, students, and the general public who are researching one of the most important painters of his generation. For example, he did over 30 paintings of African Americans during the late 1850s and 1860s, numerous Civil War genre scenes; dozens of genre paintings of American farmers and rural domestic scenes; scenes of women in gardens and at the seashore; and over 300 portraits of leading New York business and civic leaders (including Jay Gould, John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and William Vanderbilt), actors (Edwin Booth), and four US Presidents (Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland, Harrison). He also did some 80 portraits of women, as well as portraits of children and group portraits.

Background information

The project is facilitated by the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York and is made possible with a generous grant from the Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts. The funds will be used to complete the research and transfer the information from an electronic database to a website platform accessible to the public. Completion of the project is projected to be January 1, 2021.

Photo: Detail of Self Portrait. Credit Heritage Auctions

Posted on 31/10/2019 by Erik