Frank Tenney Johnson
(1874 – 1939)

Painter, illustrator. Born near Big Grove, IA on June 26, 1874. The farm on which Johnson was raised was located on the old Overland Trail where as a child he watched the westward migration. In his early teens he ran away from home and became an apprentice to the panorama painter F.W. Heine in Milwaukee, and at age 15 studied with the former Texas Ranger, Richard Lorenz. Moving to New York City in 1895, he studied at the Art Students League, New York School of Art, and with Chase, Mora, Miller and Henri. He worked for Milwaukee newspapers until 1902 and in 1904 worked as a cowboy in Colorado. Johnson then returned to New York City where he gained national fame as a painter and illustrator of cowboys and Indians. While working in New York City, he visited California in 1912 and 1918. During the 1920’s he settled in Alhambra, CA where he shared a studio with Clyde Forsythe. The two artists established the Biltmore Art Gallery in Los Angeles as a marketplace for their works. Johnson was one of the few painters of cowboys and Indians who specialized in nocturnes. A casual kiss at a Christmas party led to his death of spinal meningitis on January 1, 1939 in Los Angeles.

Image courtesy

Edan Milton Hughes, Artists in California 1786 – 1940

Allied Art Association
American Watercolor Society
California Art Club (President, 1935-1938)
Foundation of Western Artists
Highland Park Society of Artists
Laguna Beach Art Association
National Academy
National Arts Club
Painters of the West
Salmagundi Club
San Gabriel Art League