The Old Stagecoach

Enlarge image

Eastman Johnson (American, 1824–1906)
The Old Stagecoach, 1871
Oil on canvas
36 1/4 × 60 1/8 in. (92.08 × 152.72 cm)
Layton Art Collection Inc., Gift of Frederick Layton L1888.22
Photo credit: John R. Glembin
Currently on View

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.

Publication History
Orcutt, Kimberly. Power & Posterity: American Art at Philadelphia's 1876 Centennial Exhibition. 2017, fig. 27, p. 72, color illus.

Sawinski, Catherine. Mr. Layton's Gallery--The Salon-Style Hang. Milwaukee Art Museum: Under the Wings, April 12, 2013.

Eastberg, John C. and Eric Vogel. Layton’s Legacy: A Historic American Art Collection 1888–2013. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Layton Art Collection, Inc., 2013, pp. 9, 14, 78, 84, 88–93, 126–27, 131, 135, 288, 318, 326, 404–05, 456–57, color plate 2, pp. 90–91, color details pp. 88, 89, 92–93, color illus. pp. 14, and 84, color illus. with frame, p. 404, b/w illus. of installation p. 16.

Greenhill, Jennifer A. Playing It Straight: Art and Humor in the Gilded Age. 2012. p.54, fig. 21, b/w illus.

Orcutt, Kimberly. The Artist's Hand and the Artist's Eye: Xanthus Smith at the Centennial Exhibition. Archives of American Art Journal 51, no. 1–2 (2012): color illus. p. 46.

Wierich, Jochen. Grand Themes: Emanuel Leutze, Washington Crossing the Delaware, and American History Painting. University Park, Pa: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2012. b&w illus., fig. 44, p.152.

Shapiro, Emily D. Recollection and Reconstruction: Edward Lamson Henry's Depictions of Westover. American Art, published by the University of Chicago Press in Association with the Smithsonian American Art Museum 25, no.1 (Spring 2011): p.87, cover illus.

Hoppin, Martha J., and John George Brown. The World of J. G. Brown. Chesterfield, MA: Chameleon Books, 2010. p. 86, b&w illus.

Catalogue: Griffin, Randall. Winslow Homer: An American Vision. Phaidon Press, London, 2006, color Illus. p. 74, fig. 58.

Blizzard, Gladys S. Come Look with MeL Enjoying Art with Children. Charlesbridge Publishing, 2006, color pl. p. 18.

Andera, Margaret, Nonie Gadsden, Britt Salvesen, and Laurie Winters. Collection Guide: Milwaukee Art Museum. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum, 2004, pp. 33, 70, cat. 50, color illus. p. 33.

Milwaukee Art Museum. Building a Masterpiece: Milwaukee Art Museum. New York: Hudson Hill Press, 2001, p. 110, color illus.

Carbone, Teresa A. Eastman Johnson, Painting America. New York: Brooklyn Museum of Art and Rizzoli Publications, 1999, illus. p. 187, color pl. 86.

Eiland, William U. Frank Buchser: A Swiss Artist in America, 1866-1871. Athens, Georgia: Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia, 1996, b/w fig. 3, p. 45.

Wilderberg, Siv. Se sa manga barn!: En bok on barnet I konsten for barn och barnkara. Stockholm, Sweden: Raben and Sjogren, 1994, color illus. p. 58.

Glickman, Jack ed. Center for Philosophical Exchange State University of New York College at Brockport. no. 23 (1993): pp. 91–95, b/w illus. p. 83.

Ayres, William ed. Picturing History: American Painting 1770-1930. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1993, no. 146, b/w illus. p. 225.

Walton Kendall L. Make-Believe, and its Role in Pictorial Representation and the Acquisition of Knowledge. Philosophic Exchange 23, no. 1(1992): illus fig. 1, p. 83.

Goddard, Donald. American Painting. New York: Hugh Lauter Levin Associaties, Inc., 1990, p. 167, illus.

Blizzard, Gladys S. Come Look with Me: Enjoying Art with Children. Charlottesville, Virginia: Thomasson-Grant, 1990, pp. 18–19, illus. p. 18.

Doornek, Ridhard R. Images of Play. School Arts Magazine (April 1989): illus. pp 40–41.

Naglin, Nancy. On Exhibit: Founder’s Choice. Americana 16, no. 1 (March/April 1988): 18, color illus. p. 18.

Milwaukee Art Museum. 1888: Frederick Layton and His World. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum, 1988, pp. 66–67, cat. 15, color illus. p. 67.

Auer, James. A Legacy of a Toast. The Milwaukee Journal, April 3, 1988, Wisconsin, a Special Section, p. 6, NewsBank America’s Newspapers, (accessed August 24, 2017).

Goldstein, Rosalie, ed. Guide to the Permanent Collection. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum, 1986, p. 109, color illus. p. 109.

DiCurcio, Robert A. Art on Nantucket: A History of Painting on Nantucket Island. Nantucket, Massachusetts: Nantucket Historical Association, 1982, illus. p. 131.

Griffith, John W. and Charles H. Frey. Classics of Children’s Literature. New York: MacMillan Publishers, 1981, color front and back covers.

Billington, Ray Allen. Westward to the Pacific. St. Louis, Missouri: Jefferson National Expansion Historical Association, 1979, color illus. pp. 112–13.

Wilmerding, John. American Art. New York: Penguin Books, 1976, p. 131, illus. pl. 153.

King, Marian. Eastman Johnson. Highlights for Children 31, no. 3 (March 1976): pp. 20–21, color illus. p. 20.

The Western Movement. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1975–76. Filmstrip, illus.

Sarah Scaife Gallery. Celebration: Inaugural Exhibition of the Sarah Scaife Gallery of the Museum of Art. Pittsburg: Sarah Scaife Gallery, 1975, cat. 2, illus.

Gallery Guide: Eastman Johnson. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Center. September 1975, illus.

Calkins, Carrol C., ed. Reader's Digest The Story of America. Pleasantville, New York: Reader's Digest Association, 1975, color illus. p. 379.

Glubok, Shirley and Gerard Nook. Art of America in the Gilded Age. New York: Macmillan, 1974, illus. p. 36–7.

Milwaukee Magazine (March 1972): color illus. p. 85.

Hills, Patricia. Eastman Johnson. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1972, pp. 71–72, cat. 62, illus. p. 73.

Milwaukee Magazine (March 1971), color dtail cover and b/w illus. p. 5.

Charles H. MacNider Museum. A Look at American Landscapes. Mason City, Iowa: Charles H. MacNider Museum, 1966, p. 6, illus. p. 5.

Dvorak, Antonin. New World Symphony. Conducted by Otto Klemperer. Angel Records. Januaray 1965, color cover.

Ninth grade literature anthology. Webster Division of McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1965, color illus. p. 163.

American Heritage (August 1962): color frontispiece.

Smith, D. L. Is There an American Style? American Artist (November 1960): illus. p. 29.

Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego. War, Peace and Union. San Diego: Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego, 1960, cat. 36.

Museum of Art, Ogunquit, Maine. Eighth Annual Exhibition. Ogunquit, Maine: Museum of Art, 1960, cat. 15, illus.

Eliot, Alexander. 300 Years of American Painting. New York: Time, Inc., 1957, illus. p. 109.

Wildenstein and Company. The American Vision: Paintings of Three Centuries. New York: Wildenstein and Company, 1957, pl. 13.

Getlein, Frank. The Art Institute Shows Its Own. The Milwaukee Journal, June 23, 1957, part 5, p. 6, NewsBank America’s Newspapers, (accessed August 24, 2017).

Time Magazine, June 2, 1952, illus.

City is Art Minded, in an Economic Way. The Milwaukee Journal, October 1, 1950, p. 1, NewsBank America’s Newspapers, (accessed August 24, 2017).

Stover, Frances. Interest in Art Has Grown with the Years and Flourishes Today. The Milwaukee Journal, August 8, 1948, p. 23, NewsBank America’s Newspapers, (accessed August 24, 2017).

Crosby, Everett U. Eastman Johnson at Nantucket. Nantucket, Massachusetts, 1944, no. 37.

Bauer, John I. H. An American Genre Painter: Eastman Johnson. Brooklyn: Brooklyn Museum, 1940, illus

Layton Art Gallery. Catalogue of the Layton Art Gallery. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Layton Art Gallery, 1921, p. 30, cat. 50.

Hartmann, Sadakichi. Our American Art Museums: The Layton Art Gallery of Milwaukee. Arts & Decoration 5, no. 12 (October 1915): 466.

Pattison, James William. The Layton Art Gallery of Milwaukee. Brush and Pencil 3, no. 4 (January 1899): 212–13, b/w illus. p. 213.

Pictures for the Public. The Daily Inter Ocean, April 6, 1888, p. 8, Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers, (accessed August 24, 2017).

Layton Art Gallery. The Opening of the Layton Art Gallery. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Layton Art Gallery, 1888, pp. 37–8 and 50, cat. 12.

Ingram, J. S. The Centennial Exposition Described and Illustrated. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Hubbard Bros, 1876, p. 373.
Exhibition History
Eastman Johnson and a Nation Divided, Milwaukee Art Museum, February 10–May 21, 2017.

Eastman Johnson: Painting America, Brooklyn Musem of Art, October 29, 1999–February 6, 2000; San Diego Museum of Art, February 25–May 21, 2000.

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.