Ernest Borough JOHNSON

Ernest Borough JOHNSON

Ernest Borough Johnson was born in Shropshire. The family then moved to Basingstoke, where he was educated privately and at Queen's School. He went on to study at Slade and Herkomer's at Bushey, and subsequently became Professor of Fine Art at London University's Bedford College and Chelsea Polytechnic respectively.  He was a teacher of life painting and drawing at London School of Art and the Byam Shaw School. He exhibited at the RA for the first time in 1887, then moved to Bushey. Married to the artist Esther GEORGE, by 1917 he lived at Westbourne Gardens, Hyde Park, London.

They both exhibited in the 1924 Show Day in St Ives, with Johnson showing several fine oils, charcoals and pencil studies. According to the St Ives Times, one was 'a busy scene on the Wharf in the fishing season, with girls packing the fish, and a cart loaded with barrels on its way.'  He also showed a portrait of Mr MATSUBAYASHI in Samurai costume, with a bright red background. His paintings of Polperro were exhibited a number of times, including a portrait of Polperro resident William Minards, which was shown at the RA in 1920.

In 1920 the Royal British Colonial Society of Artists held an exhibition in Winnipeg, USA, containing work by, among others, Ernest Borough Johnson.

By the 1930s he was distinguished as a writer on techniques of drawing.


Portrait, figure and landscape painter; etcher and lithographer

works and access

Likenesses of the Artist: Self portrait Ernest Borough Johnson (1937, etching)

Works include: Portraits of Sir Hubert von Herkomer (1892) and Mr Matsubayashi in Samura costume (1924)

Access to work: National Portrait Gallery, Archive and Primary Collections; British Museum; South Kensington Museum (drawings and lithographs)

Books in print (1932) by Borough Johnson (published by Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons Ltd) Figure Drawing and Portraiture; The Technique of Pencil Drawing; The Art of the Pencil and A Portfolio of Rapid Studies of Movement


RA (55)


St Ives March Show Day 1924; 

City of Hull Art Gallery Spring Exhibition March 1924




St Ives Times 14 Mar 1924, 21 Mar 1924

The Artist (Vol III) Mar-Aug 1932 'Character in Portraiture' (Series of six articles by Borough Johnson, including a photographic portrait of the artist and illustrations of his work)


Chanter, C (2012) His Beloved St Ives, The Painter Gerard Wagner (photo & painting image)

Hardie (2009) Artists in Newlyn and West Cornwall (p315 under BOROUGH JOHNSON)

Johnson & Greutzner (1975) Dictionary of British Artists

Mallett's Index

Tovey, David (2021) Polperro - Cornwall's Forgotten Art Centre - Volumes One & Two, Wilson Books


Whybrow (1994) St Ives

The Year's Art