Frank Tenney Johnson
Born in Wisconsin and schooled in Milwaukee under two of the Panoramists (F. W. Heine and Richard Lorenz) whose enormous circular paintings of Biblical scenes and famous battles were precursors of cinema, it was Lorenz’s paintings (as a Panoramist, he had specialized in horses) and tales of his experiences in the West that inspired Frank Tenney Johnson. After a stint in New York, Johnson went West, becoming a ranch hand and working as a cowboy on some of the last old time cattle drives in American history. Watching the herd at night prompted him to draw and paint the Western nocturnes that would become his specialty. Johnson and his wife eventually settled in Southern California in the heart of the nascent movie business. Painting murals in movie theaters brought him great acclaim. He sold many works to the new moguls and starred in more than one early silent cowboy picture. In the Western nocturne, Frederic Remington is Frank Tenney Johnson’s only rival.