Frank Tenney Johnson was an American painter who lived from 1874-1939. Johnson is known for his Western art, particularly for his depictions of cowboys, horses, and landscapes of the American West. His paintings are highly valued for their authenticity and sense of motion, as well as their stunning use of light and shadow.
Johnson was born in Wisconsin and later moved to New York, where he attended the Art Students League. He worked as an illustrator for magazines and newspapers before eventually moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to focus on his Western art. Johnson’s work was heavily influenced by the landscapes and people he encountered in the West, and he spent extensive time studying and sketching his subjects before putting brush to canvas.
In recent years, several of Johnson’s paintings have sold for significant sums at auction. One of his most valuable works, “The Range Burro,” sold for $3.6 million in 2019. The painting depicts a solitary cowboy on horseback leading a pack burro across a rugged landscape, with the late afternoon sun casting long shadows. The sense of motion in the painting is palpable, with the horse’s mane and tail caught in the breeze and the pack burro’s head bowed beneath the weight of its load.
Another of Johnson’s paintings, “The Lure of the Sun,” sold for $2.6 million in 2015. This painting depicts a group of cowboys on horseback riding out of a narrow canyon into a sunlit landscape. The men are shown in motion, their horses at a full gallop as they race out of the canyon. The light in this painting is particularly striking, with the sun’s rays illuminating the horses and men and casting long shadows across the landscape.
Johnson’s “Cowboys Roping a Steer” sold for $798,000 in 2017. This painting shows two cowboys working together to rope a steer in a dusty corral. The sense of teamwork and cooperation between the two men is evident, and the painting captures the gritty reality of life on the ranch.
Johnson’s “Landscape Near Flagstaff, Arizona” sold for $748,000 in 2014. This painting depicts a stunning vista of the American Southwest, with jagged mountains in the distance and a lone cowboy on horseback in the foreground. The color palette in this painting is particularly striking, with warm oranges and yellows offset by cool blues and greens.
Finally, Johnson’s “Thunderhead, Coming Storm” sold for $644,000 in 2019. This painting depicts a dramatic thunderstorm rolling across the plains, with lightning bolts illuminating the sky and a herd of cows huddled in the foreground. The sense of motion and power in this painting is palpable, with the wind whipping the grass and the storm clouds racing across the sky.
In conclusion, Frank Tenney Johnson was a master of his craft, and his paintings are highly valued for their authenticity, sense of motion, and stunning use of light and shadow. While Johnson passed away over 80 years ago, his legacy lives on through his art, which continues to captivate viewers and fetch high prices at auction.