DAVID JOHNSONAmerican, 1827-1908
Hudson River School landscape artist David Johnson was born in New York City in 1827. Johnson studied at the National Academy of Design Antique School, and briefly with Jasper F. Cropsey in 1850. Johnson painted his first study from nature in 1847 in the company of luminist painter John Frederick Kensett; the two artists remained friends for life. In 1851 Johnson made his first sketching trip to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The artist made numerous subsequent painting trips throughout his career, in New York State, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. In December of 1872 it was Johnson who found Kensett dead in his studio, at age fifty-six of pneumonia. The following summer it appears that Johnson made a pilgrimage to the shores of the Narragansett Bay that had so entranced Kensett. The resulting 1873 seascape, Beacon Rock, Newport, a subject rare for Johnson, may be considered the artist’s tribute to his friend and colleague. Johnson’s composition, while remarkably like Kensett’s, is, however, viewed from the opposite side of the rock from the many versions painted by Kensett. Johnson was a member of the National Academy of Design and the Artists Fund Society. His work was exhibited at: the National Academy of Design; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; Boston Athenaeum; Brooklyn Art Association; American Art-Union; the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia; the Paris Salon of 1877; and the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association, Boston. Johnson’s paintings are among the collections of: the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; the Metropolitan Museum, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Brooklyn Museum of Art; Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio; Houston Museum of Fine Art; Currier Art Gallery, New Hampshire; Harvard University Art Museums, Massachusetts; Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, New York; Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, New Paltz, New York; Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.; Tacoma Art Museum, Washington State; and the Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago. Johnson died in 1908 in Walden, New York.