Portrait of a Man

  • William H. Johnson, Portrait of a Man, ca. 1935-1938, oil on burlap, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Harmon Foundation, 1967.59.814

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The moody colors and looping brushstrokes of thick paint link Portrait of a Man to the landscapes that William H. Johnson painted in Norway during a long trip through Scandinavia. With his jug ears and knobby red nose, this man is almost a caricature, but Johnson did not intend to satirize his subjects. He was determined to capture what he called the “essential characteristics” of his sitters, people whose faces and bodies had been shaped by the struggle to survive in a harsh environment. Here, the man’s white hair and shirtfront contrast with the darker hue of his vest and the Nordic, cobalt blue of his eyes.

Portrait of a Man
ca. 1935-1938
On View
28 1/8 x 23 in. (71.4 x 58.5 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of the Harmon Foundation

Mediums Description
oil on burlap
  • Portrait male – unidentified – elderly
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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