David Claypoole Johnston Family Illustrated Box List

The David Claypoole Johnston Family Box List consists of 28 boxes of material dating from 1799 through the early twentieth century, and spans two generations. The collection is arranged roughly according to creator, media and size of material; in addition to this information in each folder's heading, you will also find a brief description of the image as well as a thumbnail version and an option to enlarge the image in a new window. To search across the entire collection for a keyword, please use the downloadable PDF. For the complete box listing, please visit this link. The AAS also has a portion of the David Claypoole Johnston papers; the AAS catalog record available here. Additional Johnston material is contained within the curatorial collections including political cartoons, almanacs, annuals and other items. To see these items, please visit this link.


David Claypoole Johnston
Box 14 Folder 4


David Claypoole Johnston
Box 1 Folder 5


David Claypoole Johnston

David Claypoole Johnston (1799-1865) is a noted cartoonist and humorist, who also worked in watercolor, charcoal and oil. The collection at the American Antiquarian Society consists of approximately 50 watercolors, two states of three of his most famous cartoons (including colored proofs, engravings and watercolors), pencil, pen, ink and wash drawings, working pieces, envelopes for Metamorphosis, a full run of his career-launching publication Scraps, lithographs from his own collection by Nicholas Toussaint Charlet as well as drawings and two copies of the posthumously published Slavery (Voluntary) as it Exists North, South, East and West. In addition to his primary art, the collection also includes various “archival” materials - such items include frontispieces, illustrations and artwork for published texts, woodblocks, copperplates for Scraps No. 7 and other examples of the mechanical printing process.


In 1941 Clarence S. Brigham wrote an article for the Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society entitled “David Claypoole Johnston: The American Cruikshank” a PDF of that article is available here. Much of the below information on his children is from that article. You may also visit the AAS Online exhibition of David Claypoole Johnston to learn more about his life, world and work.


Three of Johnston’s children were also artists. AAS has a collection of their artwork and a small art archive. The collection includes over watercolors, chalk and charcoal drawings and oil paintings and ranges in date from 1826 to the early twentieth century. It extends the Society’s collection of works by D.C. Johnston and illustrates artistic styles and developments in the Boston area at the end of the nineteenth-century. Unless noted or attributed, it is unknown which sibling created each piece of art, though many appear to be in a similar style.

Sarah Johnston

Thomas M. Johnston

John B. Johnston

Sarah J. F. Johnston


Other Johnston Family Artists

Sarah Elizabeth Murphy Johnston (1811-1880) was the wife of David Claypoole Johnston and the mother of five (including the below mentioned Thomas, John and Sarah J.F.). She was also a flower painter. Her items are contained within Box 6, 27 and 28.


Thomas Murphy Johnston (1836-1869) was the first surviving son of David Claypoole and Sarah Elizabeth Murphy Johnston. He became noted for his crayon portraits figures and landscapes. He painted portraits of Wendell Phillips, John Greenleaf Whittier, Charles Sumner, Captain Edwin Humphrey, Frank Thomas of Hingham, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Lloyd Garrison, John Brown, Charles Lowell and Abraham Lincoln. The portrait of his mother was exhibited (pictured above and left) at the Boston Athenaeum in 1859. A crayon portrait of Abraham Lincoln was his most famous portrait, and was the result of his being sent in 1860 to Springfield, Illinois, by Charles Henry Brainard (1817-1885), a Boston publisher; Lincoln was then the Republican candidate for President. A story of Johnston’s interview with Lincoln and his letters giving his impression of Lincoln were reprinted in the Boston Globe in February 7, 1932. Although the portrait itself has disappeared, the lithographed reproduction still exists [there is one at the Boston Athenaeum]. Johnston studied with Samuel Worcester Rowse (1822-1901), the crayon portrait artist, and later with William Morris Hunt (1824-1879). His items are contained within Boxes 17 and 23.


John Bernard Johnston (1848-1886) was the second surviving son of David Claypoole and Sarah Elizabeth Murphy Johnston. He became noted as a cattle and animal painter and was a pupil of William Morris Hunt (1824-1879) and studied in Paris under Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904). His items are contained in Boxes 15, 16, 17 and 26.


Sarah Jane Frances Johnston (1850-1925) was the third surviving daughter of David Claypoole and Sarah Elizabeth Murphy Johnston. Like her brother John, she was a pupil of William Morris Hunt (1824-1879) and was proficient in making charcoal portraits. She sold many portraits to people in the Boston region and also produced figure paintings in charcoal. Her items are contained in Boxes 12, 13, 14, 17, 24, 27 and 28.

Note: images are from D.C. Johnson Misc. Mss. Box 3 Folders 5

Additional item from the 2010 gift

New additions: In 2010 the Antiquarian Society obtained through three gifts additional prints and original artwork to supplement the already copious David Claypoole Johnston Collection. These items were also digitized and added to the inventory; you will find them in this updated illustrated box list. Boxes 26, 27 and 28 are the gift of David Doret. Material donated by David Tatham was added to the existing collection and includes an uncolored copy of Mr Mathews; At Home in the Diligence [Box 7 Folder 1], Cartoon envelopes of metamorphoses [added to items in Box 10 Folder 8], a Hollis share certificate [moved to the Stock certificates collection], a broadside for Lilly, Wait, Colman and Holden, and a print entitled Characters in the Polly packet as represented by Mr. Mathews [Box 7 Folder 22].



This site last updated: April 2011

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