JOHNSON, BLUCHER

(b. 1816, d. 1872)

Sculptor and draughtsman

From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

Was son of George Johnson, who held a post in the Military Accounts Office in Merrion Street and died in 1844. He was born in Dublin in 1816. He entered the Dublin Society's School in 1828, and won a number of prizes for modelling, and in 1837 exhibited a "Bust of Dr. Handcock" in the Royal Hibernian Academy. He again exhibited busts in 1849, 1854 and 1862. Johnson, however, made little use of such talents as he possessed; he was shy and reserved, and soon developed those traits which marked him through life.

An anonymous writer in the "Daily Independent" of 29th December, 1904, says: "He had few friends, shunned society, and after his father's death shut himself off altogether from the world and lived the life of an eccentric recluse. He could work, and that both well and long when so minded, but would often lie idly in bed for days at a time. His family, friends and others who saw and admired his work, gave or procured for him many orders which he would accept or refuse, just as the humour seized him. He would often reject or neglect commissions of value and importance, in order to attend some surgeon in one or other of the city hospitals, and there take casts of broken or distorted limbs, to furnish illustrations for medical books. . . . Another of his peculiarities was his rooted objection to furniture, even to a bed. For years a bundle of straw on the floor was his couch. . . . Lying all day on his bed of straw, Johnson refused to see visitors, or anyone even on business. Men who had given him orders could only communicate with him by post, or through the key-hole."

Johnson lived in a large, old house in Richmond Avenue, Drumcondra, where his father had resided. He essayed not only sculpture, but also painting and engraving; but his work does not appear to have been more than that of an amateur. He was employed by the Dublin silversmiths as a designer and modeller. The article above quoted says that he designed the Elcho Shield for Edmund Johnson the silversmith; but this is an error, as the shield was made in England. An armorial book-plate by him has been met with—"Mary Jane Alexander," Blucher Johnson fecit 49. He died, unknown and forgotten, in the Mater Misericordiae Hospital, in October, 1872, and was buried at Mount Jerome.

His younger brother, Alfred George, still living, was a pupil in the Dublin Society's School, and exhibited works in oil and water-colour in the Royal Hibernian Academy from 1846 to 1850. He was afterwards a draughtsman for many years on the Ordnance Survey.

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