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The Girl I Left Behind Me by Eastman Johnson / American Art
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The Girl I Left Behind Me

ca. 1872 Eastman Johnson Born: Lovell, Maine 1824 Died: New York, New York 1906 oil on canvas 42 x 34 7/8 in. (106.7 x 88.7 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase made possible in part by Mrs. Alexander Hamilton Rice in memory of her husband and by Ralph Cross Johnson 1986.79 Smithsonian American Art Museum
2nd Floor, East Wing



Gallery Label

Eastman Johnson imagined a soldier's wife standing on the hill where they parted. The crimson lining of her wind-whipped cape suggests their passionate love for one another, while her wedding ring, appearing almost at the center of the painting, ensures the young bride's devotion. Johnson had witnessed the Battle of Manassas in 1862, and the painting's title refers to an old Irish song that became a popular regimental ballad during the Civil War. His viewers might have recalled the lyrics:

My mind her full image retains
Whether asleep or awaken'd
hope to see my jewel again
For her my heart is breaking.

Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006

Keywords

Figure female

History - United States - Civil War

Landscape - weather - wind

State of being - emotion - fear

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas