Portrait of Mrs. Barbara Baker Murphy (Wife of Sea Captain)

Media - 1983.95.56 - SAAM-1983.95.56_1 - 67361
Copied Joshua Johnson, Portrait of Mrs. Barbara Baker Murphy (Wife of Sea Captain), ca. 1810, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Sol and Lillian Koffler, 1983.95.56
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Artwork Details

Title
Portrait of Mrs. Barbara Baker Murphy (Wife of Sea Captain)
Date
ca. 1810
Dimensions
21 3417 58 in. (55.344.8 cm.)
Credit Line
Gift of Sol and Lillian Koffler
Mediums
Mediums Description
oil on canvas
Classifications
Keywords
  • Portrait female — Murphy, Barbara Baker — bust
Object Number
1983.95.56

Artwork Description

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.