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Frank H. Johnston
(1888-1949)

Back to Realism / Naturalism

Introduction
Carmichael Harris Jackson Johnston Lismer
MacDonald Varley Casson FitzGerald Holgate
Tom Thomson

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Johnston studied art and worked as a commercial artist there before studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia in 1912. He then worked as a designer and illustrator in Toronto, Philadelphia, and New York City. 

In 1915 Johnston returned to Toronto. In 1918 he painted pilot training at Beamsville, Ontario, for the Canadian War Memorials, a private agency that commissioned works of art to commemorate Canada’s contributions to the war effort. Johnston accompanied Toronto painters J. E. H. MacDonald, Lawren Harris, and A. Y. Jackson on sketching trips to Algoma in 1918 and 1919. A year later he joined with them and three other Canadian painters to form the Group of Seven. 
 
Johnston exhibited with the Group of Seven in 1920 only, ending his formal association with them when he moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, as principal of the Winnipeg School of Art in 1921. 

He returned to Toronto in 1924, and later painted in northern Ontario, Québec, and the Arctic.

  • Canada 1995   Serenity, Lake of the Woods.  Painted 1922.  Winnipeg Art Gallery, Canada.  Scott # 1560a. 

This is the only stamp Canada has issued with a painting by Johnston. 

Canada 1995. Group of Seven. Realism/Naturalism. Frank H. Johnston. Serenity, Lake of the Woods.


Many of Johnston’s early paintings were done in tempera, some in an illustrative, decorative style. His use of tempera allowed a certain linear delicacy and flatness, in evidence in his major painting Fire-Swept, Algoma (1920, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario). By the mid-1920s Johnston (known as Franz Johnston after 1926) publicly opposed modern art. His winter scenes -- landscapes and genre scenes of everyday life in the Northwest Territories or rural Québec -- became more intensely realist, with harsh coloring and theatrical lighting.

Introduction
Carmichael Harris Jackson Johnston Lismer
MacDonald Varley Casson FitzGerald Holgate
Tom Thomson

Sources and links: 

Other Realist artists on this site: 
 

 Back to Realism / Naturalism


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