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Group of Seven original

We were pleased to appraise this Franz Johnston original oil painting for one of our recent private clients. Passed down now three generations in the same family, this heritage piece is a classic Canadian Group of Seven example of the great Canadian landscape from the perspective of one of our artistic icons.

Franz Johnston (also known as Frank Johnston) was a Canadian painter and member of the Group of Seven, a group of artists who focused on the Canadian landscape and helped to develop a distinctly Canadian style of art. Johnston was born in Toronto in 1888 and began his art studies at the Central Technical School there. He later studied at the Art Students League in New York City and in London, England. In 1910, Johnston began working as an illustrator for Grip Ltd., a commercial art firm in Toronto. He continued to work as an illustrator while also painting in his spare time. In 1912, he met Lawren Harris, who would become a lifelong friend and fellow member of the Group of Seven. Harris encouraged Johnston to pursue painting full-time, and Johnston eventually left Grip to become a freelance artist. In the early 1920s, Johnston began to focus more on landscape painting, inspired by the Canadian wilderness. He joined the Group of Seven in 1920, and his work was exhibited alongside that of other members, including A.Y. Jackson, Arthur Lismer, and Tom Thomson. Johnston's work often depicted rugged landscapes and dramatic weather conditions, with bold brushstrokes and vivid colors. During the 1920s and 1930s, Johnston traveled extensively throughout Canada, painting landscapes in Ontario, Quebec, the Rocky Mountains, and the Arctic. He also spent time in the United States and Europe, studying the works of other artists and exhibiting his own paintings. In 1934, Johnston left the Group of Seven to pursue other interests, including teaching and writing. He taught at the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts (now Emily Carr University of Art and Design) and later at the Banff School of Fine Arts (now the Banff Centre). He also wrote a book on landscape painting, "Franz Johnston: The Story of an Artist," which was published in 1947. Johnston continued to paint throughout his life, and his works are held in many public and private collections, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. He died in Toronto in 1949 at the age of 61.


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