Portrait by H.L. Johnston
Untitled portrait, 1958, H.L. Johnston
The identity of H.L. Johnston has been lost to history, however his art remains. Luckily, he jotted down the date and place of his creation, so we could better understand the artwork. Indeed, this portrait of a Filipino flower vendor selling his wares - presumably in the city of Manila where it was painted - feels as fresh today as it did then.
Although one would never guess simply by looking at this pleasant oil painting, the Philippines was in great transition in 1958. A year earlier, Carlos P. Garcia took over the presidency from his predecessor President Magsaysay, who had died tragically in a plane crash. Garcia's biggest move was enacting his Filipino First Policy. A reaction to internal ethnic conflict and foreign military influence from the US, it was a nationalist policy that tried to encourage Filipino business.
This painting of the flower vendor, whether intentionally or not, captures a moment in time where pride and investment in one's business was not simply a part of your daily life, but a major component of 20th-century Filipino ethnic identity, nationalism, and political independence.
- Onastasia Youssef
Size: 20" x 16"
Condition: Water stain on back of canvas, otherwise in excellent condition