This thesis considers the experiences that motivated the creation of an 1863 painting by American artist Eastman Johnson entitled The Lord is My Shepherd. An examination of the painting—which depicts a black man reading a Bible—reveals multiple artistic, social, political, and spiritual influences. Created in the midst of the American Civil War, the painting's inspiration derived from Johnson's New England childhood, training in Europe, encounters with the Transcendentalist movement, and his abolitionist views. As a result, The Lord is My Shepherd is a culminating work in Johnson's oeuvre that was prompted by years of experience and observations in an age of rampant racism and civil war. It is also argued that The Lord is My Shepherd has diaristic qualities in that Johnson explored significant social and political issues of the day such as slavery through his work. Before now, this painting has been considered a relatively minor work within Johnson's oeuvre. This thesis seeks to change that perception and raise awareness of the contextual significance of The Lord is My Shepherd.
College and Department
Fine Arts and Communications; Visual Arts
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Slater, Amanda Melanie, "Conscience and Context in Eastman Johnson's The Lord Is My Shepherd" (2014). Theses and Dissertations. 4313.
Eastman Johnson, blacks, abolitionist, slavery, reading, Bible, American religion, Transcendentalistism, American Civil War