Archive for August 6, 2012

Artist of the moment…..Frank Tenney Johnson….

The artist is well known for his painting of nocturnal scenes, I consider he and Frederick Remington to be the best when it comes to painting works that take place in darkness or twilight.

A short clip from the Ackerman Gallery of Art. A few slides and quick background info are given.

A brief clip showing Bonhams and Butterfields auction house getting ready for an art auction. The artist is mentioned starting around 1 minute and 55 seconds into the clip.

Frank Tenney Johnson painted mainly with oils on canvas but also was a great watercolorist and made several preliminary works in pencil and charcoal.  The artist was a master at portraying contrasts in both color and light and dark shapes that are seen in the night time. I enjoy his cowboys more than any other artist because so little is stated in the face but the mood and still quiet of the night is captured perfectly.

high price range:  657,000 for the last picture in the gallery TIME TO WAKE THE COOK.

low price range:  At auction in January of this year  some oil paintings were sold for $3,750.

The artist is part of a very ineresting news story that broke recently in Bridgwater, Massachusetts. A library there had a painting hanging that was a donation.  One day a visitor asked if the piece was an original. It was an original painted by Frank Tenney Johnson titled ” Trooper on Guard.”  Johnson painted the piece in 1935 and it was donated to the library in 1967.  The piece is currently undergoing restoration at Vose Galleries in Boston. Once fully restored the piece is thought to be worth as much as $375,000 at auction.

The musuem is at odds of what to do with the painting. The library doesn’t meet museum standard security, and the risk is too  great that someone will steal the painting  if the musuem brags about owning such a valuable work. More than likely the library will sell the piece at auction and reap the financial benefits.

The artist was born in 1874 in Coucil Bluffs, Iowa. At tens of age the artist moved to Milwaukee. He then became an apprentice to F.W. Heine, a well respected painter of panoramic views of the Western part of the States. He also was an apprentice under Richard Lorenz, an artist specializing in painting horses and scenes of the west.

Later in life the artist moved to New York where he blossomed as a painter studying under such as artists as William Merritt Chase, John Twachtman, and Kenneth Milller, and Robert Henri.

The artist was first a very successful illustrator working on books for Zane Grey and magazines such as Field and Stream. In addition he became an attorney and was quite active. He spent much of his later years on a ranch he owned just outside of Cody, Wyoming.

The artist died oddly in 1939. He attended a party and kissed the hostess. He either contracted or passed the virus spinal meningitis, he died the next day.

In closing this artist is my favorite painter alongside Frederick Remington in capturing the “Color of Night.”  This was a great exhibit I saw at the Denver Art Museum and encourage art fans to take a closer look at “nocturnal scenes.”  The artist went to great lengths to produce his night scenes sometimes taking one year to complete them.

Try a night scene today!

Happy painting!


Artist of the moment…..Olympian Walter Winans….

The artist was born in 1852. An artist who was excellent in many different aspects of life. He was a horse breeder, sculptor of horses, painter, and auther of ten books. He had a passion for expressing his love of guns and firearms. In fact the artist considered the shooting of a firearm to be a form of art as well.

He was born in Russia, but to wealthy Americans. His father worked in the construction industry and was working with Nikolaevsky Railway in St. Petersburg, Russia. The artist lived in Russia until the age of eighteen. He took an oath as an American citizen and headed off to Kent, England.

As a horse breeder the artist was very successful. He sent some horses to the National Horse Show taking place in 1910 in New York City.

The artist worked in a variety of mediums from watercolor and graphite but mainly he was a sculptor working in bronze. He won a gold medal for his country in an International Art competition in 1912 at Stockholm, Sweden.

Winans competed in both the 1908 and 1912 summer Olympics. The artist won a gold in 1908 and a silver in 1912 in shooting events. He won for both the double shot running deer  in 1908 and the Team 100 m running deer event in 1912.

Although an American by birth the artist didn’t visit the United States for the first time until 1910, at the age of fifty eight years old.

His family was able to become wealthy from a variety of patented inventions and building of railroads. His grandfather ran a company building railroad cars for thirty years. The company was based out of Mount Claire, New Jersey and grew dramatically due to increase in usage and transportation of coal.

In 1840 the Czar of Russian gave control to the railway expansion to Winan’s family company and this is how the artist ended up being born and growing up in Russia.

George Washington Whistler, who was the father to the artist James Whistler, was an engineer working in the railroad industry. The Winans and the Whistlers got to know each other via the railway industry.  A sister to Thomas Winans (the artist’s father), married a brother of the artist James McNeil Whistler.

An interesting fact while I was browsing the New York Times shortly after the artist’s death in 1920. He died while taking place in a trotting race in London. He was widely followed and known about town as a resident American living in London.  The artist died just as his horse crossed the finish line.

In 1866 the railway expansion project was bought out by the Russian government and the Winan family became very rich. The family returned to the United States and lived in Baltimore. Thomas Winans passed away in 1878, Walter Winans inherited between twenty and forty million dollars.

The artist was indeed a hunting enthusiast owning estates and hunting lands in Belgium and in Scotland where he controlled nearly 250,000 acres of land to hunt and fish.


This artist though born lucky and rich but worked long and hard to become successful and nearly every endeavor he tried.  The fact that he was best in the WORLD for a shooting event in 1908 and second best in 1912 should leave little doubt and the wonderful work ethic of this artist.

Other wealthy artists to research would be Edgar Degas and the descendant to the Romanoff family who makes great art out of shrinky dinks. I have written about Andrew Romanoff and his very interesting life previously.

Nice to read about an Olympian that also takes art seriously.

low price range: $5,000

high price rage: $70,000