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A Ride for Liberty -- The Fugitive Slaves

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A Ride for Liberty-Fugitive Slaves

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Born in 1824 in Lovell, Maine, Eastman Johnson took to art early in life, setting up a portrait studio in Augusta when he was 18 years old. He later worked in Boston and Washington, D.C., and in 1849 travelled to Europe where he received extensive training in drawing and painting.

In 1859, Johnson opened an exibit in New York which featured Negro Life in the South. It was a turning point in his career -- one which would lead to his becoming, for many years, the foremost genre painter in the United States.

This painting, A Ride for Liberty -- The Fugitive Slaves, depicts a black family fleeing toward freedom. It is based on an incident which Johnson witnessed during the Civil War battle of Manassas. The mother, holding a small child in her arms, looks back apprehensively for possible pursuers.

Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum of Art

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Related Entries:
Slave narratives and Uncle Tom's Cabin

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