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I love sleuthing – especially when it pays off

Here’s a painting I bought years ago at some antique / junque shop or other, for no other reasons than it looked like vintage children’s book illustration, and the girl in armor on the deer just had to be a distant cousin to Kahvi, the Go-Back chieftess. (We’ll overlook that the nasty-looking foe is riding a wolf.)

I mostly was able to make out the signature: “Chas. (scribble) Johnson” – but the first time I went seeking, I found no information. A Google search, back then, turned up about a thousand Charles Johnsons – none of whom were artists.

But information, like life, will find a way. This morning, while rooting through the art closet, I rediscovered little Kahvi-lookalike and thought to give it another shot. The search again turned up a phonebook’s worth of Charles Johnsons, but this time there was more organization, and one of the many Charlies was listed as “Charles H. Johnson, American illustrator and newspaper artist.” Why, yes, that mumbly little scribble between “Chas” and “Johnson” could be an “H” now, couldn’t it?

Which took me to the Wikipedia entry for “Charles Howard Johnson” and crikey if there’s not a different illustration in the very same style with the very same distinctive signature. At this stage of the game (which is definitely afoot now) I haven’t uncovered a lot about Mr. Johnson, other than that he painted “Kahvi” the year he died – 1896 – at the sad young age of 28. But the article mentions that he illustrated over ten books, so maybe soon I will learn … the rest of the story!

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