MS01.01.03.B02.F10.018

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-14-

Johnston's fame as a portrait artist was well known in the states of Maryland
and Virginia and based on the [strikethrough: patronage he portrayed] works that have been discovered, the whole of his
subjects, excluding two known portraits of Blacks, were of whites. At the
present time, only about thirty such works have been attributed to Johnston
yet, it seems ^ [un]likely that he painted such a small number of works during the known
period of his practice [strikethrough: in the city of Baltimore.] from 1796 to 1824. Johnston bought an advertisement
in the Baltimore Intelligence which appeared December 19, 1798, attempting
to promote his profession. [strikethrough: His ad read:] I read accordingly:

"Portrait Painting . . . as a self-taught genius deriving
from nature and industry his knowledge of the Art . . .
experienced many unsuperable in the pursuit of his studies
it is highly gratifying to him to make assurances of his
ability to execute all commands, with an effect, and in a
style, which must give satisfaction. Apply at his House,
in the ally leading from Charles Street to hanover Street,
back of Sear's Tavern." 14

His reference in the ad to having . . . "experienced many unsuperable obstacles
in the pursuit of his studies . . ." no doubt refers to his having overcome the
problem of not being accepted as an artist because of his color. That he did
achieved a measure of success ^ [as a portrait painter,] which signalled a form mof acceptance of his
craft, went unnoticed by art historians and critics slightly more than 100 years
after his death.

On entering the new era of artistic expression which showed the transition
from slave craftsman to amateur artist. The black artist was thus treading on
an even more unwelcomed path than he had followed in the area of the crafts.
That the intellectual ability to perform in the arena of the plastic and graphic
arts was always prevelent among black ^ [artists was] evidenced in the graphic works in the

14 Baltimore Intelligence, Baltimore, Mayland, December 19, 1798.

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