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Robert Johnson (1893—1940)

by Percy Leason

Robert Johnson (1893—1940)

oil on canvas
76.5 x 61.2; in original frame
inscribed in black paint on reverse of canvas u.r.: ROBERT / JOHNSON
No. 24 in 1934 exhibition
Gift of Mrs Cathy Culbard, 1990
La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria

Robert Johnson was apparently a small man, although both his portrait and the photograph by Dr Donald Thomson give little indication of this, showing an admittedly slight but fit-looking man. However, when photographed by Norman Tindale in 1938—39, Robert looked ill and was probably already suffering from the tuberculosis that caused his death in 1940.

Although Percy Leason noted that Johnson was not a very good sitter, the portrait gives little indication of this. It is carefully and sensitively painted, giving Johnson considerable dignity through his serious expression, tilted chin and upright posture.