Five Boys on a Wall


Eastman Johnson ( American, 1824 - 1906 )

c. 1875–1880
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General Description

Although small in scale, this quiet scene packs a visual punch as Eastman Johnson explores the intense effect of broad sunlight on his youthful sitters. These experiments in rendering outdoor light had increasingly occupied Johnson during his annual summers on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. One of the most internationally minded of mid-19th-century American painters, the Boston-born Johnson studied at the Dresden Academy in Germany, in The Hague, Netherlands, and in Paris. Returning to the United States after 1855, "the American Rembrandt"-as Johnson was called-enjoyed popular success for images of everyday life such as this one.

Web Resources

  • Eastman Johnson, Biography
    Read a biography of Eastman Johnson from the National Gallery of Art.

  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
    Compare Eastman Johnson's Five Boys on a Wall to a work by one of his contemporaries, Winslow Homer's 1874 Boys in a Pasture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.