Johnson’s picture of a young boy playing the flute ranks as one of his most intimate and engaging paintings of African-Americans dating from the 1860s. These works followed the critical and popular success of his painting Life in the South (1859, New-York Historical Society), upon its showing at the National Academy’s annual exhibition of 1859.

After studying at the Düsseldorf Academy from 1848-1851, Johnson spent a year living in The Hague in Holland, where he closely studied the Dutch and Flemish masters, including Rembrandt. In the years ahead Johnson would become one of the greatest figure painters of his generation.


  • Title: The Negro Boy
  • Creator: Eastman Johnson
  • Date Created: 1860, 1861
  • Physical Dimensions: 14 x 17 in
  • Provenance: Gift from the artist, NA diploma presentation, May 6, 1861
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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