Monday, October 25, 2021

John Christen Johansen, Early 1900s American Portrait Artist

John Christen Johansen (1876-1964), brief Wikipedia entry here, was a successful American portrait artist during the early decades of the 20th century.  However, he is not well known today.

I need to mention that as of mid-July when this post was drafted, his Wikipedia entry was flawed.  A short, better biographical sketch is here.

It seems that Johansen originally painted landscapes before focusing on portraits of men -- probably a more lucrative artistic pursuit.  Most of the examples I found on the Web were works related to his commission to portray the 1919 Versailles conference that concluded the Great War.  These portraits tended to be competently made, though their colors were rather drab.


Woodrow Wilson study (cropped) - c. 1919
This was used as cover art for a recent biography of Wilson.  I like the way Johansen blocked in Wilson's head and facial structure.

Daniel Chester French - 1925
He painted several portraits of his Stockbridge, Massachusetts summertime neighbor who is best known for sculpting the seated Lincoln in the Washington DC Lincoln Memorial.

Signing of the Treaty of Versailles - 1919
What he was sent to France to portray.

Georges Clemenceau - 1919
French wartime Prime minister.

Marechal Joseph Joffre - 1919
Joffre, now a Marshal of France, led French armies during the first years of the Great War.  His most important accomplishment was realizing that his prewar Plan XVII was a failure, then repositioning his forces to defeat the German armies in the Battle of the Marne in early September 1914.

General Joseph Joffre by Henri Jacquier - 1915
Similar pose to Johansen's, though details differ.  I have no idea if there was any connection between these two works.

Generale Amade Diaz - 1919
Diaz assumed command of Italy's army after failures by his predecessor and was successful against German and Austro-Hungarian forces.

Henry Clay Frick - n.d., presented to the Frick Collection in 1943
Probably painted circa 1910.

Interiors - 1925
Like the Versailles scene above, Johansen often liked his subjects low, below tall windows.  Note the brighter coloring than the portraits above.

Elizabeth, Queen of the Belgians by M. Jean McLane - 1921
M. Jean McLane (1878-1964), Wikipedia entry here, was Johansen's wife and also a portrait artist.

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