N. T. Johnson (1834-1905)


It is believed by the authors, based on the research below, that N.T. Johnson was a  pseudonym used by N.T. Leganger early in his career, in the 1860’s, when he came to California from Norway. N.T. Johnson is listed in Smithsonian records as having exhibited in several places in San Francisco in 1864 and 1865 (California Art Union and San Francisco Mechanics’ Institute). He exhibited portraits and still lives. Leganger’s obituary states that Leganger did portraits while in San Francisco. After the 1860’s, N.T. Johnson exhibition records seem to disappear, except for a painting exhibited in New York City (Landscape watercolor at American Society of Painters in Water Colors, New York, New York, 1867-1868).

After the 1860’s, N.T. Leganger paintings and records start to appear on the East Coast in the 1870’s. This is consistent with his obituary that states he left California after the Civil War and traveled in Europe before returning to the United States. Leganger’s first name was Nicolay. The San Francisco city directory of 1865 listed a Nicolay T. Johnson Artist at 429 Montgomery St. with his dwelling listed as Cosmopolitan Hotel (page 246). Leganger’s calligraphy of his initials “N.T.” are quite distinctive. A signed  N.T. Johnson floral painting from 1865 inscribed “S.Fr.” [San Francisco] is known which has the same distinctive lettering style of Leganger. There are also two almost identical coastal scenes known — one signed N.T. Leganger and the other N.T. Johnson.  N.T. Johnson also exhibited a painting of Norway in California in 1865 — consistent with Leganger’s birth country.  Finally, there is a New Hampshire painting from the summit of Mt. Washington that is currently signed N.T. Leganger. But upon cleaning, a second signature, N.T. Johnson, was said to be discovered. A similarly described painting is listed as having been exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1871 under the name N.T. Johnson.


The Authors