Edward and Sarah Rutter

Joshua Johnson American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 774

Johnson, born to an enslaved woman and a White man, is the first known African American artist to earn his living as a professional portrait painter. He worked in Baltimore from about 1789 to 1825, painting likenesses of diverse sea captains, shopkeepers, as well as merchants and their families. In this depiction of Edward Pennington and Sarah Ann Rutter, children of Captain Joshua and Mary Pennington Rutter, Johnson demonstrated his affinity for strong colors and precise detail. Such work held particular appeal for early twentieth-century American modernists, who found in it a directness of expression that informed their own art.

Edward and Sarah Rutter, Joshua Johnson (American, ca. 1763–ca. 1824), Oil on canvas, American

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