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Artists
borndied
1763 ca1824 ca
a biracial American painter from the Baltimore area. Johnson, often viewed as the first person of color to make a living as a painter in the United States, is known for his naïve paintings of prominent Maryland residents. It was not until 1939 that the identity of the painter of elite 19th-century Baltimoreans was discovered by art historian and genealogist J. Hall Pleasants, who believed that thirteen portraits were painted by one Joshua Johnson. Pleasants attempted to put the puzzle of Johnson's life together; however, questions on Johnson's race, life dates and even his last name (Johnson or Johnston) remained up until the mid-1990s, when the Maryland Historical Society released newly found manuscripts regarding Johnson's life.
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