“Ethereal. Haunting. Tender. When I first viewed Miss Kitty Pierson, I immediately thought of the Mona Lisa, and in fact, Eastman Johnson has been compared by critics with the great Leonardo da Vinci. One of the leading genre painters of the nineteenth century as well as a renowned portrait painter of presidents and poets, Johnson’s paintings are in most major museum collections around the country. Miss Kitty belongs in a museum, too!”
-Bill Vose, President
More information about this painting...
In Kitty Pierson Gathering Wild Grapes, Johnson combines his talents for portraiture and genre in rendering the young girl among a natural setting, with her luminous dress and pale skin radiating against the darker masses of trees and foliage. The dramatic chiaroscuro, likely inspired by the portraits of Rembrandt, emphasizes the child and the bounty of grapes in her arms, allowing the details of her surroundings to fall into a hazy, atmospheric veil, while the harvest motif relates to the rustic themes Johnson explored among the maple groves of Fryeburg, Maine during the 1860s and the cranberry bogs of Nantucket in the 1870s.
Vose Galleries first handled this painting in the early 1960s and sold it to Maxim Karolik, a major collector of fine American paintings who donated and later bequeathed several examples of Johnson’s work to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Private collection, Hingham, Massachusetts
With Vose Galleries, Boston, inventory no. 20605, December 1961
To collection of Maxim Karolik, Newport, Rhode Island, March 1962
To the Karolik Estate Sale, Newport, Rhode Island, 1964
To private dealer, Longmeadow, Massachusetts, 1964
To private collection, Brockton, Massachusetts, and later to the collector’s estate, 1977
With Vose Galleries, Boston, inventory no. 25154, June 1977
To private collection, Williamsburg, Virginia, July 1977 to present
1). Previous Vose Galleries label, inventory no. 25154
2). (handwritten label, probably early-to-mid 20th century) 107. Kitty Pierson Gathering / Wild Grapes – / Signed: E. Johnson 1876 / 19 x 14 ½ O/B
Reproduced on page 5 of Newport Daily News article, “Maxim Karolik Estate Sale To Disperse Rare Collection,” June 4, 1964