Today's Hours
Museum: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Gardens: 7:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Today's Hours
Museum: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Gardens: 7:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Johnston, R.L.
(1850-1918)
Collection: American Collection
Specialty: Paintings
View Artwork
Reuben Le Grande Johnston

aka Reuben LeGrande Johnston

(1851 - 1918)

Born in Alexandria, Virginia in 1850, Reuben Johnston became a successful
painter specializing in portraits, genre paintings, and works that
reflected the influence of les animaliers artists like Rosa Bonheur,
featuring animals within a particular landscape. An example of this type
of work is the painting on display in the Norton, Geese in a Meadow.
Though Johnston was apparently largely self-taught, having taken only a
few classes in Baltimore from artist Adalbert Volck, his style and subject
matter indicate that he likely spent some time studying in France and
there are also indications that he traveled in Spain, Morocco, Tangiers,
and England as well. Returning to America, he lived in New York City for a
time and then returned to the Maryland/Virginia area to become an
instructor at the Art Students League of Washington, D.C. (not to be
confused with the longer-lived and better known Art Students League of New
York). He often painted in rural areas surrounding Washington, creating
commissioned works for well-to-do families and local hotels.

Johnston was a member of the Society of Washington Artists and
participated in exhibitions at the Corcoran Gallery, the National Academy
of Design, and the Royal Academy of London. He also had a fabled romance.
Virginia Del Castillo (who later styled herself as Mary Johnston) was born
in Cuba, but while she was still a young girl, her parents, General
Francisco Del Castillo and Marietta Aldrich, moved the family to New
Hampshire. As a young woman, she became a professional portraitist in the
Washington D.C. area. R.L. Johnston was the judge at an art show where she
had entered her painting of a Giribaldian soldier. Admiring the work, he
asked to meet the artist, and they subsequently fell in love and married.

Reuben Le Grande Johnston died in 1918 in Riverdale, Maryland.

Everl Adair

Director of Research and Rare Collections