Christmas-Time, The Blodgett Family

Artist: Eastman Johnson (American, Lovell, Maine 1824–1906 New York)

Date: 1864

Culture: American

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 30 x 25in. (76.2 x 63.5cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Whitney Blodgett, 1983

Accession Number: 1983.486

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 763
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.
Signature: [at lower right]: E. Johnson. / 1864.
descended in the sitter's family