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United States; 1824-1906
Hannah Amidst the Vines, c. 1860
oil on canvas; 14 x 10.5 inches
Gift of George Bliss, 1939
One of the preeminent masters of nineteenth-century U.S. genre, Eastman Johnson travelled to Germany to attend the popular Dusseldorf Akademie, and spent three years in The Hague carefully studying the composition and color of the seventeenth-century Netherlandish masters. Having previously mastered the skill of charcoal portraiture, he changed his subject matter after his return from Europe to traditional U.S. themes. His multi-figure scene, Old Kentucky Home - Life in the South (1859), for which he was elected to the prestigious National Academy of Design, inaugurated a series on rural southern African Americans. The Georgetown painting depicts a charming young girl in a naturalistic pose, leaning on a fence in an arbour with a string of grapes suspended from her mouth.