Saturday, July 26, 2008

Paul R. Johnston, A Forgotten Canadian Painter?

Harold Barrett, the proprietor of Pickwick’s Choice Antiques at 1698 Queen St West spared some time to chat with me and pose for some photos today. This man is a treasure. My Saturday afternoon visits with this colorful character are the high point of my week. Every encounter is different as Pickwick discusses the fascinating trends in his life – I could start an entire new domain on The Life of a Queen St Antiques Dealer. It actually bothers me that his knowledge is wasted in this dusty shop in the antiques ghetto of Toronto. Phone him at 416 538 4419 and ask him anything!

Harold Barrett advises collectors to ‘buy Canadian art right now!’

But some conditions apply. Namely the modern Canadian artists must have some credentials and some record of their achievements and gallery shows. Where did they go to school? Who taught them? What did the critics think of their work? Did they join a movement?

Pickwick didn’t need any persuading to show me one of his best pieces. It’s hanging on the wall right behind the counter, for sale, a bargain at $695. This piece is something of a scarcity in the Canadian art world because it’s from the son of famous painter…

There's no Wikipedia file for Paul Roderick Johnston - the son of Franz Johnston? I can't find any hard data on this man. Even in Frank Johnston's wiki page there's no mention of any children?

Paul R Johnston is how he signed his name to this oil on canvas, entitled Winter Landscape near Wyebridge. It's 20x16 oil on canvas that was priced at $100 in 1945 - the artist dated his work here by writing the numbers 44 behind his signature. Pickwick believes this was sold at a gallery in downtown Toronto in 1945. 'Do you know how much you could buy with $100 in 1945? he asked me and then replied 'It was three months wages for most people.'

According to Pickwick, Paul Roderick Johnston was the son of Mr. Franz Johnston who lived from 1888-1949. Francis or Franz was an original member of the Group of Seven, but only showed in the Group's first exhibit where he displayed over sixty paintings - more than all the other members.

Franz painted differently than the other Group of Seven members. He liked close-ups that often seemed crowded, and demonstrated incredible prowess in simple landscapes with subtleties like clouds reflecting on water.

Here is Franz Johnston's classic LANDSCAPE AND SKY STUDY signed; inscribed "The Weather Breeder" on the reverse, inscribed title – it was sold in November 2006 at Ritchies and the estimate reads between $7000 and $10,000 but I don’t know how much it actually brought. This painting is exceptionally beautiful. Dumpdiggers proclaims this to be a terrific investment at $10K and a steal at $7K.

According to Harold Barrett of Pickwick’s Choice the artist known as Paul R. Johnson was the son of this famous Franz Johnson. I have to believe him. The back of the painting proudly declares the artist’s pedigree. REMARKS - Bright landscape by son of Famous Franz Johnston – ARCA

What does A.R.C.A. mean? Academie de Royal Canadian Artiste hmmm… no?

According to Charles Moffit of Lilith Galleries

ARCA stands for Association for Research into Crimes against Art.

In Winter Landscape near Wyebridge, Paul paints like his father - Franz Johnston's style became increasingly more realistic throughout his life, evincing a particular fascination for the qualities of light reflected from snow. Like his father, Paul explored river valleys and detailed the bright blue water bending between snow-laden banks. Like his father, Paul also painted the pastoral countryside around Wyebridge, Ontario.


Jayne said...

Comparing the two styles, I prefer the son's but they're both fantastic paintings.
As I'm in Oz I'll just admire from afar ;)

Michelle (artscapes) said...

Fantastic and very interesting post. I can't wait to have more time to explore again after the show opens.... :)

Vinocracy said...


Estimate: $7000 - $10000
Sold: $8400

beagles said...

i have a rodrick as does my sister
mine is a commissioned work done for an uncle with inscription painted on the back and signed
my sister's piece was done for my parents in the '60's
both are oils
i also have an newspaper artcle with some biographical info

Gord said...

In the early 1960's for close to two years Paul Roderick and his family rented my mother's family home, Riversmead, in Hudson Quebec. His large canvasses brightend up the walls of the home and amazed my young eyes. His daughter (I think ther were actually two or three) brightened up the halls of Hudson High School and had all the local boys in tow.

Raymond B Winfield said...

Located at 56 Molson St Port Hope on the Back of the Front Door is a Piece by Paul done in about 15 minutes.. Helmlock bows in white with red accent. This piece was done late one evening while he was visiting my parents. He did it at the request of my mother and signed at my request. Early 60's I believe he had a daughter Zoe and Rodrick was his mother's maiden name taken so as not to be seen as connected to his father.

Anonymous said...

Paul R Johnston and his wife Phyliss had 3 daughters. They lived in Dorset Ontario in the 1950s in a cabin where Robinson's General Store now sits. His mother owned the Dorset Hotel. He often painted in the area. The 3 girls are named Ryder, Zoe and Shane. They attended the Dorset Public School.

Anonymous said...

I have a Paul Roderik Johnson oil painting, it is a winter scene of the Wye river near Wyebridge Ont. It was done in the 1950's when he lived in Midland Ont. He was building a very modern and unusual house on King St. Midland and my father had done welding on the steel structure of the building. Yhe building was never completed and instead of paying for the welding, my Dad took this painting. The painting is signed "Paul Roderik" and on the back he wrote a poem about winter and signed again "Paul Roderik" He didn't use the sirname Johnson to avoid confusion with his father.I remember Paul driving a yellow Kaiser Fraser with a black leather top.

Anonymous said...

Got to your blog by accident and loved it.
I have a Paul Rodrik printing as well and it is a oil on Masonite depicting AGAWA Canyon as well as one from is wife Phillis.
Totally proud to have those in my collection.

Anonymous said...

This is what I said in 2014. Paul R Johnston and his wife Phyliss had 3 daughters. They lived in Dorset Ontario in the 1950s in a cabin where Robinson's General Store now sits. His mother owned the Dorset Hotel and lived in the hotel with her second husband. Paul Roderik often painted in the area. The 3 girls are named Ryder, Zoe and Shane. They attended the Dorset Public School. Sometime in the early 60s Paul Roderik and his family moved to Quebec.

January 2019 I forgot to mention that Paul Johnston Roderik had a sister with the given name of Wenawae. Wenawae's married name was Stevenson. She and her husband had two children (boy and a girl). They lived in Bracebridge. Wenawae and her husband owned a gift shop.