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American, 18th century, male.

Painter, pastellist. Portraits.

G.W. Hobbs was also a pastor, being one of the founders of the black Methodist church, the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME). He was active at the end of the 18th century in Baltimore as the official painter for this church. A picture attributed to him was the pastel portrait of Richard Allen (...


David Bjelajac

(fl c. 1796–1824).

American painter, perhaps of West Indian heritage. Johnson was the first significant, identifiable African American professional painter. He worked primarily in Baltimore, painting portraits from 1796 to 1824. His career and his identity as a ‘Free Householder of Colour’ are sketchily documented in city records. He had once been a slave and apprenticed to a blacksmith, but was freed by the 1780s. More than 80 portraits have been attributed to him (see fig.). Sarah Ogden Gustin (c. 1798–1802; Washington, DC, N.G.A.) is the only signed work and typifies his early style. Although the figure is woodenly rendered and awkwardly seated within a flattened space, the view through a window reveals a painterly landscape and an attempt at atmospheric perspective. Johnson’s early portraits closely resemble compositions by members of Charles Willson Peale’s family, particularly Peale’s nephew Charles Peale Polk, suggesting that he may have studied under them. His later work is more tightly painted and includes several large family portraits, such as ...


American, 18th – 19th century, male.

Active in Baltimore, 1793-1824.

Born 1762 or 1763, in Maryland; died c. 1830.

Painter. Portraits, compositions with figures.

There is not very much information on the life of Johnson. His mother was a slave and his father was probably the white painter George Johnson. He was liberated from slavery at age 19, thanks to a law in Maryland in ...


American, 18th century, male.

Painter, draughtsman. Mythological subjects, portraits, landscapes. Frontispieces.

Scipio Moorhead was a slave belonging to the Reverend John Moorhead of Boston, whose wife Sarah was a painter and drawing teacher and probably gave him his artistic training. He was active in Massachusetts in the 1770s. The Black poet Phyllis Wheatley, born in the Gambia and herself a slave of the plantation-owner John Wheatley in Boston, mentions him in a poem entitled 'To S.M., A Young African Painter, on Seeing his Works', in her collection ...