John R. Johnston

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
John R. Johnston
John R. Johnston with Painting.jpg
John R. Johnston self portrait with his painting of Andrew Jackson, late 1850s
BornMarch 10, 1826
DiedJuly 29, 1895(1895-07-29) (aged 69)
OccupationArtist, photographer

John R. Johnston (March 10, 1826 – July 29, 1895) was an American panoramic painter, photographer, and photographic colorist known for his landscape paintings.[1] He has painted many portraits of well-known people, specifically one of Franklin Pierce and one of Andrew Jackson in 1863.[2][3]

Johnston's landscapes were influenced by the Hudson River School.[3] He assisted artists Samuel B. Stockwell and Henry Lewis with their panoramas in the late 1840s.[4] [5] In 1848 he collaborated with Edwin F. Durang on a biblical-themed panorama which was twelve feet wide and 1800 feet long.[6] [7] Johnston toured with this panorama to Louisville and Philadelphia and would deliver speeches on biblical topics along with its showing.[7]

Mrs. John R. Johnston (by John R. Johnston, before 1857)

Johnston moved to Baltimore, Maryland in 1856 and worked as both a portrait artist and a photographic colorist.[8] He worked with wet collodion negatives on salted paper. One of his prints from 1857 is titled Dr. Kane’s funeral at Cincinnati March 8th, 1857 who could not be taken because they were all moving and would not stop for Arctic explorer Elisha Kane's funeral.[9] In 1858 he was selected to take a "scenic excursion" over the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company's newly opened Baltimore-to-Wheeling track which formed the basis for many of his later landscapes.[8] He served in the Union army during the American Civil War and was a Colonel in the First Maryland Regiment.[7] However, he wound up in military prison, supposedly because of practical joking, left for Europe upon his release and created a panorama of his trip upon his return.[7]

After returning, Johnston settled in Philadelphia and later Camden, New Jersey in 1872 where he sometimes called himself Colonel Johnston. While there, he would often socialize with Walt Whitman, having dinner with him nearly every Sunday evening.[10][11]

Personal life[edit]

Johnson married Rebecca Freeman on February 9, 1847.[12] They had a daughter, Ida, and a son, John Jr.[11][7]


  1. ^ "Mrs. John R. Johnston". Cleveland Museum of Art. 2018-10-30. Retrieved 2019-02-04.
  2. ^ a b "Two Original Watercolors by John R. Johnston". Lee Jay Stoltzfus Rare Books. Retrieved 2019-02-05.
  3. ^ EHRMANN, Thierry. "John R. JOHNSTON (1826-1895) - Biography, life, background and work by Artprice". Retrieved 2019-02-04.
  4. ^ Arrington, Joseph Earl (Spring 1982). "Panorama Paintings in the 1840s of the Mormon Temple in Nauvoo". Brigham Young University Studies. 22 (2): 203–204. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  5. ^ Palmquist, Peter (2005). Pioneer photographers from the Mississippi to the continental divide : a biographical dictionary, 1839-1865. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press. p. 359. ISBN 0-8047-4057-7. OCLC 56334078.
  6. ^ a b c d e Belisle, D. W. (January 22, 1881). "Personal Sketch of Col. John R. Johnston". Camden County Courier. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  7. ^ a b Haverstock, Mary (2000). Artists in Ohio, 1787-1900 : a biographical dictionary. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press. ISBN 0-87338-616-7. OCLC 38731960.
  8. ^ Czepiel, Kathy Leonard (2018-07-25). "Photographic Memory". Daily Nutmeg. Retrieved 2019-02-05.
  9. ^ "Ruth L. Bohan, "Painters and Painting" (Criticism)". The Walt Whitman Archive. Retrieved 2019-02-05.
  10. ^ a b "Letter from Walt Whitman to Ida Johnston, 14 June [1877] (Correspondence)". The Walt Whitman Archive. 2018-11-19. Retrieved 2019-02-05.
  11. ^ "Walt Whitman to John R. and Rebecca B. Johnston, 9 February 1875 (Correspondence)". The Walt Whitman Archive. 2018-11-15. Retrieved 2019-02-05.