John Robinson’s work frequently features portraits of his family and surrounding community, offering an intimate look at mid twentieth-century Washington, D.C. Maud Jones, a woman who sold newspapers on New York Avenue, asked Robinson to paint her portrait with the Bible. The resultant painting shows Maud seated in profile by a window in the artist’s sitting room, which is filled with framed artworks and fine furnishings, including an Oriental rug and upholstered chair that also appear in a portrait of Robinson’s son, Pete (1991.0068.0002). The sitter’s face is pursed in concentration, though her pose is relaxed.
Robinson later recalled that, “she came for several Sundays and sat. Before I finished the portrait, she disappeared, and I never saw her again.” The portrait of Maud Jones likely remained in the artist’s personal collection for several years, as it can be seen hanging for sale in the background of his 1946 painting, Outdoor Art Fair, Lafayette Park (2017.15.1).