Portrait of Mrs. Barbara Baker Murphy (Wife of Sea Captain)
oil on canvas 21 3/4 x 17 5/8 in. (55.3 x 44.8 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Sol and Lillian Koffler
Smithsonian American Art Museum
2nd Floor, South Wing
Joshua Johnson, a self-trained artist and former slave, is the earliest documented professional African American painter. His sitters were Captain John Murphy and his wife, Irish immigrants who lived in Baltimore, where Johnson painted many merchants, seamen, and their families. In these portraits—intended to hang side-by-side—the artist delighted in fine details, from the captain's artfully arranged curls to his wife's sheer lace collar.
Portrait female - Murphy, Barbara Baker - bust
paint - oil
fabric - canvas