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Frank Johnson
(1917 — 1998)

Frank Johnson was a British portrait painter. Born in Leicester in 1917, Johnson worked as a commercial artist until the outbreak of World War II where he served as part of the Royal Air Force. Following the end of the war, in 1947 he enrolled to study painting formally at Leicester College of Art. By 1952, Johnson had been appointed tutor at the Bradford Regional College of Art, teaching immersive classes on commercial design and anatomy. It was here that he found great success, first as a teacher instructing several young artists who would later find great fame (David Hockney among them) and later as an artist in his own right.


An accomplished portrait painter, Johnson exhibited often at the Royal Academy and at galleries in his adopted home of Yorkshire. Johnson taught at the Bradford Regional College of Art from 1952 to 1980, where he continued to take part in life drawing classes held at the College after his retirement. Johnson’s work is included in public collections throughout Britain, his tender grasp of naturalism and light appreciated by many. Though he was primarily appreciated as a portrait artist, Johnson’s work features such a keen attention to detail that it takes on a documentary-like quality. From full-body canvases painted with bell bottomed jeans to bust portraits capturing the fashion in hair, Johnson remains one of the finest, but most modest, artists of his time, capturing the era in which he lived with considerable yet quiet skill late in to his life. The artist died in 1998. His work remains in the collection of the Bradford Museums and Galleries among other regional collections throughout Britain.