Portrait of Edward Aisquith
Joshua Johnson, American (active Baltimore), born c. 1762
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The earliest documented professional African American artist, Joshua Johnson (whose last name sometimes appears as Johnston) worked as a portrait painter in Baltimore, where he produced more than eighty known works between 1795 and 1825. He may have begun life as a slave, but Johnson was certainly a free man by 1795, when he advertised himself as a self-taught "genius" in the Baltimore Intelligencer. This is the first work by the artist to enter the Museum's collection.