The Last of the Ice, LaBine Bay, Great Bear Lake, NWT, 1939
oil on panel, 12" × 14"
Frank Johnston, A.R.C.A., O.S.A. (1888-1949) Artist Biography
Frank Johnston (b: Toronto, June 19, 1888; d: Toronto, July 19, 1949) was a Canadian artist and one of the original members of the Group of Seven.
Johnston exhibited with The Group of Seven only once, in their first show at the Art Gallery of Toronto (now the Art Gallery of Ontario) in May 1920. Johnston's rate of production was such that in the 1919 Algoma show he contributed sixty works - more than any other artist. A few months later, he extended his independence even more, having a large one-man show of 200 paintings at the T. Eaton Company Galleries. In the fall of 1921, Johnston left Toronto to accept the position as principal of the Winnipeg School of Art. There he held the largest show ever seen in that city. He had been slowly moving away from the Group movement, and now the break was complete. In 1924, he announced his official resignation, claiming that he had no disagreement with the group, only that he wanted to go his own way with regards to exhibitions.
Johnston's style became increasingly realistic throughout his life, evincing a particular fascination for the qualities of light reflected from snow. This theme recurred in later works, in large narrative paintings of the 1930s and 1940s as well as more intimate examinations of a river valley, the bright blue of the water bending between snow-laden banks. His subjects range from the pastoral countryside of the Wyebridge, Ontario, Wyebridge area, northern Quebec, and the Northwest Territories. He had begun in the 1920s to hold regular solo exhibitions and his paintings found a great following among the public. Unlike many Canadian artists, Johnston was able to achieve considerable financial success in his own lifetime.
He taught at the Ontario College of Art during the 1920s. In 1927, he changed his name to Franz Johnston.