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Frank Tenney Johnson


Pursuit of a Cattle Thief

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Famous Artists - Pursuit of a Cattle Thief by Frank Tenney Johnson

Pursuit of a Cattle...

Frank Tenney Johnson

Frank Tenney Johnson (June 26, 1874 – January 1, 1939) was a painter of the Old American West, and he popularized a style of painting cowboys which became known as "The Johnson Moonlight Technique". Somewhere on the Range is an example of Johnson's moonlight technique. To paint his paintings he used knives, fingers and brushes.

Early life

Johnson was born in Pottawattamie County, Iowa on his family's farm along the old Overland Trail, near Big Grove, Iowa (now known as Oakland, Iowa). Johnson's mother died in December 1886, and the family moved to Wisconsin. He attended Oconomowoc High School in Oconomowoc.[1] In 1893, he enrolled in the Milwaukee School of Art (absorbed by Milwaukee State Normal School in 1913), where he studied with Richard Lorenz, a well-known painter of western subjects.[2] In 1895, Johnson moved to New York City where he studied with John Henry Twachtman at the Art Students League of New York.[3]

In his early career, he worked primarily as an illustrator. He began working for Field & Stream magazine in 1904. [4] In addition to Field & Stream, he contributed to Cosmopolitan[5][6] and Harpers Weekly magazines,[7] and illustrated the Western novels of Zane Grey.[8]

Johnson lived permanently in New York from 1904 until 1920, making numerous trips to the west to gather source material for his works that were completed in his New York studio. He lived on a ranch in Colorado for a while, later he went southwest to work on painting Native Americans. In 1920, he moved to 22 Champion Place in Alhambra, California where he shared a studio with Clyde Forsythe.[9] At this point Johnson's easel paintings became more popular than his illustrations so he concentrated in this medium. Together Johnson and Forsythe founded the Biltmore Art Gallery at the Biltmore Hotel.[10]

Between 1931 and 1939, he spent much of his time at his studio in Cody, Wyoming, just outside Yellowstone National Park. Many of his paintings were done there from studies inside the park.

Johnson died from spinal meningitis in 1939 in Pasadena, California.[11]

Awards and honors

In 1932, Johnson was honored with membership in the National Academy of Design.[12]


"Frank Tenney Johnson". Museum of Wisconsin Art. Retrieved November 26, 2013.
Conzelman, Adrienne Ruger (2002). After the Hunt: The Art Collection of William B. Ruger. Stackpole Books. p. 62.
Artists in Santa Catalina Island Before 1945; essay by Jean Stern at www.tfaoi.com
"Frank Tenney Johnson". National Museum of Wildlife Art. Retrieved November 26, 2013.
Cosmopolitan, Volume 44. Schlicht & Field. 1908. p. iii.
The Cosmopolitan, Volume 46. Schlicht & Field. 1908. p. 723.
Harper's Weekly, Volume 57. 1913. p. lxxviii.
"Frank Tenney Johnson". Nedra Matteucci Galleries. Retrieved November 26, 2013.
The Frank Tenney Johnson book. 1974.
National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum (2005). A Western Legacy: The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 54.
Solomon, Deborah (2013). American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell. Macmillan. p. 196.

Conzelman, Adrienne Ruger (2002). After the Hunt: The Art Collection of William B. Ruger. Stackpole Books. p. 62.

External links

A 1903 Field & Stream cover illustration by Frank Tenney Johnson
Works by Frank Tenney Johnson at Project Gutenberg
Works by or about Frank Tenney Johnson at Internet Archive
In 1957, Johnson's sister-in-law was found strangled in his former house in Alhambra. The case was never solved.
Frank Tenney Johnson Artist and Gallery web site

Artist , USA


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