The New Bonnet

Artist: Eastman Johnson (American, Lovell, Maine 1824–1906 New York)

Date: 1876

Medium: Oil on academy board

Dimensions: 20 3/4 x 27 in. (52.7 x 68.6 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Bequest of Collis P. Huntington, 1900

Accession Number: 25.110.11


During the 1870s, Johnson found inspiration for paintings on Nantucket, an island that preserved American traditions that were reassuring in an era of bewildering change. In a Nantucket kitchen, a young, fashionably dressed woman shows off a stylish new hat to her more plainly clothed sister. Their father, having returned with the shopper, is hunched by the fireside, warming his hands and waiting for the drink being mixed by his more restrained daughter. Johnson outfitted the setting as if it were a carefully appointed colonial stage set or "period room." The spare interior, exuding humbleness and respect for the past, and the older man, who is physically and psychologically isolated, are in sharp counterpoint to the fashionable daughter and her new purchase. Johnson's scene goes beyond recording a simple scene of everyday life to invoke simpler times gone by and to take note of rising consumerism.