Artwork by Frank Hans Johnston,  The Pole Star

Franz Johnston
The Pole Star

oil on board
signed lower left; signed and titled on the reverse
9.75 x 12 ins ( 24.8 x 30.5 cms )

Sold for $17,700.00
Sale date: May 28th 2019

Private Collection, Toronto
Franz Johnston’s Canadian landscapes are a reflection of his interest in turn-of-the-century ideals, displaying much more atmospheric and decorative qualities than his fellow Group of Seven members. Unlike the modernist paintings of Thomson and Harris, Johnston’s work evolved toward a more traditional and romantic style, recalling 19th century painters such as Homer Watson. “The Pole Star” is a fine example of the artist’s ability to capture the interplay of light, shadow and colour in Canada’s wilderness. The oil painting demonstrates how Johnston could transform the ordinary to the ornate in depicting houses covered in a blanket of snow below a starry sky on a crisp winter night. Johnston’s romanticization of his subjects continued throughout his career.

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Frank Hans Johnston
(1888 - 1949) Group of Seven, OSA, ARCA, CSPWC

"In Johnston one can almost see the sound swelling into the vastness of infinity. The small panel is no restriction to the eye and one stands among the stars of timeless space. Dancing formless light, subaqueous in feeling, ephemeral as Aurora Borealis. It holds one motionless in moving space." Frank (Franz) Johnston was born in Toronto and like many other Group members, he joined Grip Ltd. as a commercial artist. In 1910, he left for the United States where he studied art in Philadelphia and worked in commercial design in New York. Although an original member of the Group, Johnston's association was a brief one. He did exhibit in the exhibition of 1920, but by 1921 he had left Toronto to become Principal at the Winnipeg School of Art. In the earlier years of their friendship, Johnston had joined MacDonald and Harris on their journeys to Algoma. His paintings from those years express a strong decorative interpretation of the landscape. In later years, the artist's style became more realistic and revealed a strong fascination with the qualities of light. In 1927, Johnston changed his name to the more exotic title of 'Franz' Johnston and found some success in commercial art galleries, where he was free from association with any formal group of artists.