This subseries consists of images of objects Johnson owned at one time or retained as reference (perhaps for study purposes or possible purchase). Documenting the former is an oversized volume that holds 42 photographs, most of which appear to be albumen silver prints measuring approximately 9"x11.5". An inscription inside, in a hand that is not Johnson's, reads: "Selections from J.G. Johnson Collection." Additional information is written on paper that once wrapped the volume: "J.G. Johnson/Mounted Photos of Earlier Owned Work." The wrapping and note were most likely prepared much later by Museum library staff. The volume primarily documents Johnson's interest in contemporary European painting, that is, works executed during the 1870s and 1880s, with the last nine images devoted to decorative art pieces. Although none of the paintings are identified, an occasional signature and year can be discerned, which verifies the date range noted above. Some of the artists represented are Jan van Beers, Jean-Baptiste-Edouard Detaille, Alberto Pasini, Gustavo Simoni, Francesco Vinea, and Jean Béraud. A seascape by the Russian-born Ivan Aivazovsky is also included. It appears likely that Johnson later decided to sell most of these acquisitions, as suggested by the "earlier owned work" notation." A number of the artists who can be identified from these prints are also noted in Johnson's receipts from the Philadelphia art dealer Haseltine Galleries. The Haseltine papers are included in the "Correspondence" series. Based on that documentation, Johnson purchased works by these artists in the early 1880s, only to return some of them for credit by the end of the decade. Furthermore, only two paintings reproduced in this volume have been identified as still remaining in the Johnson Collection--Pasini's "Street in Damascus" (Cat. 1057) and van Beers' "Girl with a Parrot" (Inv. 2438). Based on these observations and the albumen format of the photographs (prevalent 1870-1990), this volume probably was compiled between the early 1880s and early 1890s.
According to the labels affixed to the original storage boxes, the remaining images of "old photos" document works of art from the Johnson Collection as well as those not part of the collection. The latter are also identified as coming from Johnson's house. Since the labeling and type of housing are identical, it can be assumed that the images of paintings from the collection also were transferred from the house. All the images are subdivided further by national or regional grouping, such as British, Dutch, etc. Most of the images are photographs; some appear to be engraved reproductions. Images vary in size--from 4"x5" prints to 11.5"x15.5" (including mounting boards). There are several larger boards, which are filed separately as "oversized."
Certain evidence suggests that Johnson compiled a number of these images himself. For example, many of the photographs are albumen prints--a format of the late 19th century. A few are annotated on the verso by Bernard Berenson or Herbert P. Horne, both advisers to Johnson, as well as by R. Langton Douglas, a scholar and dealer from whom Johson purchased several Italian paintings. (Their annotations are noted in the corresponding folder titles.) Others are stamped or mounted on boards identifying art dealers with whom Johnson did business, such as (Galerie) Durand-Ruel. However, there is also evidence suggesting that some images were compiled later by the curators; such as, the notations written in black felt tip pen on mounting boards similar in fashion to those created by Henri Marceau, during his curatorial tenure at the Museum. It is also possible that while Johnson acquired the images, curators made later notations, such as "sold in 1920," written on one of the images of a German painting.
Since many of the images appear to have originated during Johnson's lifetime, they collectively suggest the many works of art for sale that dealers brought to Johnson's attention, and/or Johnson's reliance on such images for purposes of comparison and study. These images also document attributions or titles of paintings that have since been revised by later scholars. An example is a painting of St. Catherine (Cat. 319). Affixed to the verso is a typescript of a 1911 letter from the art historian Max Friedlander to R. Langston Douglas, apparently the owner of the painting at that time. Friedlander identifies the work as Flemish, probably painted at Bruges, circa 1460. It is now attributed to an unknown artist, probably Netherlandish. Other reattributions of nationality are noted parenthetically in the folder titles. At least one attribution was revised by the time these photographs were originally boxed. On the verso of a portrait published by Durand-Ruel, the German painter Holbein [the Elder] is identified as the artist. The reproduction of Cat. 345, however, was filed as Dutch, which reflects its current attribution to an unknown artist active in the northern Netherlands. There is also at least one image indicating alterations to the work of art itself. The reproduction here of the portrait of Andrea Bandini (Cat. 73) shows the sitter with a full head of hair, which is not the case in the portrait's present state. Also of note is the two-dimensional paper replica of the Isenheim Altarpiece, with flaps representing the hinged panels. Perhaps a printer's error, the flanking panels of Saints Sebastian and Anthony are transposed in comparison to the actual piece at the Unterlinden Museum.
Folder titles reflect the original national or regional grouping in which the images were classified. Collection numbers have been added where applicable. The one image filed as part of the Dutch paintings in the Johnson Collection could not be identified as such during processing. It is in the "unidentified" folder. During processing, general subject categories were included in the folder titles to works of art not in the Johnson Collection. Domestic scenes, depicting either peasants or the wealthy, indoors or out, are filed here as "Interiors and outdoor genre." "Landscapes" consist of rural and city scenes, many of which include figures. Views with "waterways" (including frozen ones) are filed separately. "Portraits" are of individual sitters and groups. Separated from other religious depictions are those with the "Madonna and Child." These include portraits of the two with donors and saints, as well as depictions of the New Testament stories of the Nativity and Presentation at the Temple. The one painting that appears to depict a parable (of the blind leading the blind) is included in the French "Mythological and Allegorical" folder.
Of the images stamped with a photographer's name, most are the work of Braun, Clément & Cio. (Paris), Lawrence X. Champeau (New York, NY), F[ratelli]. D'Alessandri (Rome), Haeseler Photographic Studios (Philadelphia), J. Laurent & Co. (Madrid, for Prado), Thomas E. Marr (Boston), and T. Sardnal (Paris, for Durand-Ruel). Many (if not all) of the works of art photographed by Thomas E. Marr (and later by Thomas E. Marr & Son) belong to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The photographs are date-stamped between 1903 and 1911, and therefore coincide with the museum's earliest years, when it was open to the public on a limited basis since it also served as Mrs. Gardner's palatial home. Marr (b. 1849) was also a well-known society photographer. Both Mrs. Gardner and her residence were among his subjects. Like Johnson, Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-1924) consulted with Bernard Berenson in her acquisitions of art.