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The Interior of the Artist's Home

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Johnson tells a personal story that signals his achievements, the domestic harmony he enjoys, and the separation between public and private spheres in contemporary life. Setting the scene in his residence on West Fifty-fifth Street, he shows his wife, Elizabeth, ascending the staircase to the family's private quarters. As was customary in middle-class and affluent households, she had presumably been "at home," receiving guests in the parlor during the afternoon visiting hours. Johnson's scene owes its composition and palette to Dutch masters such as Pieter de Hooch and Gerrit Dou. The well-appointed sunlit parlor, decorated with paintings, announces Johnson's professional success. His wife's beautifully rendered figure and the child's stroller placed alongside the parlor door convey her key role in all domestic endeavors.