Another “Found” Vernon Johnson Painting of Rural Ohio

Imagine browsing through a thrift shop and finding a “lost” Vernon Johnson painting with a high-class provenance – the elegant Palmer House Hotel, Chicago’s liveliest social center at the turn of the 20th century and well into it. Palmer House paintingFrom the Palmer House galleries to Saint Vincent’s Thrift Store in Columbus, Ohio, one of the hundreds of mid-century watercolors by Midwest regional artist Vernon Johnson had a very charming and — we trust — memorable ride.  The proud new 21st century owner of this autumn scene, who lives in central Ohio, instantly “loved it and put it in my cart without hesitation.” Once she saw the Palmer House information on the back of the painting, she searched for our Artist’s Eye website.

“I looked up the Palmer House in Chicago, and was shocked at the opulence,” she wrote.  “Possibly your father had a show there?” Palmer House signatureWhile we don’t know the full story, we can make some good guesses — as an art school student at the Cleveland Institute of Art, Vernon Johnson was featured in a show at The Art Institute of Chicago, and later he had many friends and business colleagues in the Midwest. No doubt one of those avenues resulted in this 1959 painting displayed in the Palmer House Galleries.

If you find another Vernon Johnson painting, dear readers, be sure to let us know!

About The Artist's Eye

Writer, consultant and author of The Artist's Eye: Vernon P. Johnson's Watercolors of 1950s Small Town America
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5 Responses to Another “Found” Vernon Johnson Painting of Rural Ohio

  1. I found a Vernon P Johnson “Executive Mansion” #6 of 950. it appears to be signed on the bottom right corner. is this something worth keeping? any idea of worth?

    • Apologies, but did I reply to this? The C&P Telephone Company had commissioned the watercolor for its 1987-1988 white pages cover and later presented it to Governor and Mrs. Gerry Baliles. The artist then signed and numbered 1000 prints. The Executive Mansion has undergone several restorations since then; the value of the painting you have is historical – and also part of the rich lore of Richmond history. You can read more about this painting and how it was developed in The Artist’s Eye book, and I’m happy to let you know how you can obtain a copy. Thank you! Janis

  2. Tracey says:

    About 15 yrs ago I purchased at a Chillicothe,Ohio yard sale a painting of the Clintonville Inn dated 1951 signed by Vernon P Johnson. Do you have any history of this?

    • Hello, thank you for your story – this is fascinating. Vernon P. Johnson painted the Clintonville Inn in 1950 just before it was torn down. While he was known to paint several versions of his paintings, and sign them, you may have one of the originals. A version painted in 1964 is part of the Four Seasons series that hangs in First Merit Bank in Mount Vernon. You should visit it! The fuller story of the Clintonville Inn is told in the book – and I’d be happy to let you know how you can obtain a copy. You could also compare your version with that one. Tell us more about how you discovered the painting and why you purchased it! Thank you, Janis

    • Hi, Tracey, I’m following up to my earlier email message. I am trying to get more details about “found” Vernon Johnson paintings such as yours. I’d like to learn more about how you discovered the painting and why you purchased it – what captured your interest? We are collecting stories of these paintings not only for this blog but also for historical research for Mount Vernon, Ohio. I look forward to hearing from you. Best regards, Janis

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