Self-Portrait

Media - 1967.59.679 - SAAM-1967.59.679_1 - 81354
Copied William H. Johnson, Self-Portrait, ca. 1923-1926, oil on canvas, 29 3423 34 in. (75.560.4 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Harmon Foundation, 1967.59.679

Artwork Details

Title
Self-Portrait
Date
ca. 1923-1926
Dimensions
29 3423 34 in. (75.560.4 cm.)
Credit Line
Gift of the Harmon Foundation
Mediums
Mediums Description
oil on canvas
Classifications
Keywords
  • African American
  • Occupation — art — painter
  • Occupation — art — printmaker
  • Portrait male — Johnson, William H. — self-portrait
  • Portrait male — Johnson, William H. — waist length
Object Number
1967.59.679

Artwork Description

This self-portrait reflects William H. Johnson’s training at the National Academy of Design. His painting teacher, Charles Hawthorne, encouraged his students to paint with “spots of color,” using a palette knife instead of a brush (Powell, Homecoming: The Art and Life of William H. Johnson, 1991). Here, patches of red, yellow, and blue pigment lift Johnson’s features out of the background and give his self-portrait the somber dignity that the National Academy fostered in its artists.