Jim

  • William H. Johnson, Jim, 1930, oil on canvas, mounted on masonite, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Harmon Foundation, 1967.59.748

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William H. Johnson returned home to South Carolina in 1930 after twelve years away. In this portrait of his sixteen-year-old brother, Jim, it is tempting to see an image of “Willie” when he was Jim’s age and setting off on his own. The background, almost equally divided between dark and light pigments, evokes Johnson’s position between two different worlds. He had been teased as a mixed-race child because of his relatively fair skin and wavy hair. When he left Florence, South Carolina, in 1918, he had followed the path of white American artists, training in New York City and traveling to Europe. But the praise he won shortly before he returned to his hometown called attention to his black ancestry once again, transforming Johnson into a symbol of the “New Negro” (Powell, Homecoming: The Art and Life of William H. Johnson, 1991).

Title
Jim
Artist
Date
1930
On View
Dimensions
21 5/8 x 18 1/4 in. (54.8 x 46.3 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of the Harmon Foundation

Mediums
Mediums Description
oil on canvas, mounted on masonite
Classifications
Keywords
  • Ethnic – African-American
  • Portrait male – Johnson, Jim – bust
Object Number
1967.59.748
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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