Friday, 1 March 2013

Robert Johnson: pioneer landscape painter of the Capertee Valley

While not the first artist to paint in the district, Robert Johnson (1890-1964) can be credited in making the Capertee Valley a popular painting spot with other 20th century landscape artists. 

Photo of Robert Johnson by Lionel Lau

William Robert Johnson was born in Auckland, New Zealand, and later trained at the Elam School of Art. He served with the New Zealand armed forces in Europe during the Great War. In 1920 he married Olive Phillipson, and she later became known as a watercolourist who also painted in the Valley. In 1921 Johnson and his wife settled in Sydney, and they lived during the interwar years at Eastwood.

From the 1920s to 1950s Johnson was an occasional visitor to the area, and while here he produced many fine oils, watercolours and drawings. Capertee works include (among others) the following titles: Glen Alice Store; Brymair Station, Capertee Valley; Tambo Station, Capertee; and Morning near Glen Davis. Many of his Capertee Valley images were shown at Johnson's many solo exhibitions, and one of his oils, Capertee Cliffs (1947), was purchased for the permanent collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

River Bed, Capertee Valley, by Robert Johnson
Like many landscape painters, Johnson found inspiration in many different areas of the world. As well as his Capertee Valley images he is known to have painted all around New South Wales, central Australia, the Northern Territory, as well as his home land of New Zealand.

Early Morning, Glen Alice, Capertee Valley, N.S.W. 
Undated oil by Robert Johnson (private collection)

As well as his many one-man shows, Johnson was also a regular exhibitor with the Royal Art Society of NSW (RAS). During the 1950s he was elected a Fellow of the RAS and served as joint Vice President of the group. His memorial exhibition catalogue in 1964 included an introduction from the then Prime Minister, Robert Menzies.

We are keen to locate more of Johnson's Capertee images. If you know of any do get in touch.


  1. My mother has a lovely oil painting called House in the Bush. She recently died and we would like to sell the painting but nit sure of value or where to sell it. Can you put me in touch with someone who could help me? I am in Canada.

  2. Best to contact your local art auction house. Good luck!

  3. Hi l have a oil painting from Robert Johnson does any one know a value on this please.


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