John Christen Johansen was considered one of the leading portraitists of his day, receiving numerous important commissions and many honors. He grew up in Chicago, and from 1891-1897 he attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, studying with, among others, Frank Duveneck (1848-1919). He then went to Paris, where he attended the Académie Julian and briefly the class of James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903). Returning to Chicago in 1901, he taught at the Art Institute until 1906, when he went to Venice for two years. In 1908 he opened his studio in New York, where he worked for the rest of his career, also maintaining a summer studio in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, after 1917. He painted landscapes, interiors, and figure paintings, but achieved his greatest success with his portraits. He was married to the artist Myrtle Jean MacLane (1878-1964), who was as well known for her portraits of women and children as he was for his portraits of men.
"Studio Talk," International Studio 26 (September 1905): 244-66 § Arthur Hoeber, "John C. Johansen: A Painter of the Figure, Landscape and of Architecture," International Studio 42 (November 1910): III-X § Rilla Evelyn Jackman, American Arts (Chicago: Rand McNally, [c. 1928]), pp. 246-47 § National Cyclopedia of American Biography, s.v. "Johansen, John," with lists of collections and honors.