Christmas-Time, The Blodgett Family
Eastman Johnson (American, Lovell, Maine 1824–1906 New York)
Oil on canvas
30 x 25in. (76.2 x 63.5cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Whitney Blodgett, 1983
This conversation piece—a group portrait with narrative elements—was the first commissioned work of a type that Johnson would often paint. It shows William Tilden Blodgett (1823–1875), a supporter of the Union cause and a founding trustee of the Metropolitan Museum, with his family in the Renaissance Revival parlor of their house at 27 West 25th Street. Depicted during the Civil War, at a time of urban upheaval, the serene interior decorated for Christmas, embodies "the best sentiment of home," as a critic observed in 1865. Only the toy of a caricatured black male dancer held by the young boy hints at pressing issues of racial strife and emancipation.