About this artwork
Joshua Johnson was the first known African American painter to gain professional recognition in the United States. Listed in the 1816 Baltimore city directory as a “free householder of Colour,” he had been freed by his enslaver (and father) around 1782 after apprenticing as a blacksmith. Described as “self-taught” in a newspaper advertisement, Johnson attracted local patrons for his portraits from the city’s artisan and middle-class families.
Elizabeth Beatty is fashionably dressed, wearing a circlet of glass beads that accentuates her brown hair and gray eyes. The child’s clothes are equally elegant; she sports a high-waisted, white-muslin gown and holds a brightly colored strawberry, a delicacy often featured in Johnson’s portraits.
- Joshua Johnson
- Elizabeth Grant Bankson Beatty (Mrs. James Beatty) and Her Daughter Susan
- c. 1805
- Oil on canvas
- 81.3 × 71.1 cm (38 × 32 in.)
- Purchased with funds provided by Robin and Tim Reynolds and Jill Burnside Zeno; Bulley and Andrews, Edna Graham, Love Galleries, Mrs. Eric Oldberg, Ratcliffe Foundation, and Quinn E. Delaney funds; Walter Aitken, Dr. Julian Archie, Mr. and Mrs. Perry Herst, Jay W. McGreevy, Mr. and Mrs. John W. Puth, Stone Foundation, and Mr. and Mrs. Frederick G. Wacker Jr. endowment funds; through prior acquisitions of the George F. Harding Collection and Ruth Helgeson