The Old Stagecoach
The Old Stagecoach, 1871
The early 1870s marked the height of Eastman Johnson’s career. His sentimental genre scenes of rustic youth and rural life were extremely popular in the wake of the Civil War, evoking a nostalgia for simpler times. Images of innocent and carefree children offered promise for a new beginning to a generation troubled by industrialization and decaying urban conditions. The traditional New England character of Nantucket attracted Johnson to spend his summers there. This energetic and convincingly spontaneous scene of children playing on the wreck of a stagecoach was actually staged in Nantucket on a platform, which the artist altered in the studio to conform to an abandoned coach he had drawn in the Catskills. Despite its contrived origins, the painting is a joyful celebration of the hope of a nation as embodied in the laughter of its youth.
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Picturing Old New England: Image and Memory, The National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, April 2, 1999–August 22, 1999.
Frank Buchser: A Swiss Artist in America, 1866-1871, Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia, 1996.
1888: Frederick Layton and His World, Milwaukee Art Museum, April 8–August 28, 1988.
Celebration: Inaugural Exhibition of the Sarah Scaife Gallery of the Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, October 26, 1974–January 5, 1975.
Eastman Johnson, Whitney Museum of American Art, March 28–May 14, 1972; Detroit Institute of Arts, June 7–July 22, 1972; Cincinnati Art Museum, August 5–September 30, 1972; Milwaukee Art Center, October 20–December 3, 1972.
Exhibition in Commoration of the Brooklyn Art Association, Kennedy Galleries, New York, November 2–November 14, 1970.
A Look at American Landscapes, Charles H. MacNider Museum, Mason City, Iowa, January 9–February 19, 1966.
War, Peace and Union, Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego, October 7–November 30, 1960.
Museum of Art, Ogunquit, Maine, June 15–September 10, 1960.
The American Vision: Paintings of Three Centuries, Wildenstein and Company, New York, October 23–November 16, 1957.
19th Century American Masters, Milwaukee Art Institute, February 20–March 23, 1948.
Eastman Johnson Paintings and Sketches, Kenneth Taylor Galleries of the Nantucket Foundation, Inc., July 1–August 5, 1945.
California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, January 9–Feburary 9, 1943.
50th Anniversary Exhibition, Portland, Oregon Art Museum, December 1, 1942–January 3, 1943.
Centennial Exposition, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, March 10–November 10, 1876.
Annual exhibition of the National Aademy of Design, New York, 1871.
This information is subject to change as the result of ongoing research.