Eastman Johnson. "The Barefoot Boy".
Boston: L. Prang & Co., 1867-69. 12 3/4 x 9 3/4. Chromolithograph. Margins trimmed to image and print mounted on board as originally issued. With original Prang print label on verso. Very good condition. In original period frame.
Johnson's "The Barefoot Boy" is one of the most famous of all Prang's chromos, advertised by Prang as the personification of the American character: the boy "in homespun clothing, barefooted," symbolizing "that self-reliant aspect which characterizes the rural and backwoods children." Based by Eastman Johnson on John Greenleaf Whittier's poem, "The Barefoot Boy," the print was praised in magazines and books as the paradigm of the quality chromolithographs could display, and Prang claimed that it was "the most popular of all our publications." It took three months to make the twenty-six stones used to make this print and another five months to print the first run. For promotion, Prang provided free copies to the poet and painter and then quoted their replies in his advertisements. Whittier wrote, "It is a charming illustration of my little poem, and in every way satisfactory as a work of art"; and Johnson claimed that, "It strikes me as being one of the best chromolithographs I have ever seen." This print is not only a classic American genre image, but it is a wonderful example of the quality of prints published by the greatest of American chromolithographic publishers.