Eastman Johnson, American, 1824 - 1906
Eastman Johnson's depictions of rural life appealed to a widespread sense of nostalgia in the American post-Civil War era. Barn Swallows is one of several similar subjects he produced in 1877 and 1878 while visiting his sister, Harriet May, and her family at their summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine. Though New Yorkers, the May children and their friends represent a rustic ideal of childhood on the farm. The restless children perch inside a shadowy barn on a summer day, illuminated only indirectly by sunlight reaching into the space. A cast-off book and an abandoned bouquet tell of the diversions that fill their happy days.