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Artist Biography

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-born Ernest Leonard Blumenschein went to Paris in 1895 to study at the famed Julian Academy. There he met Joseph Henry Sharp, with whom he traveled to Arizona and New Mexico in1898, on an assignment from McClure's magazine to sketch the Southwest. At some point during their journey their wagon wheel broke, taking them to the nearest town for repairs, Taos, where they would both end up living permanently. This adventure led to the formation of the Taos Art Colony, a group composed of Eastern artists who painted the local landscapes and Pueblo Indians.

In New York, Blumenschein taught at the Art Students League and collaborated with his wife, Mary Shepard Greene, on illustration assignments, until they moved to Taos full time in 1919. Inspired by the regional Native American art, his thoughtful illustrative style became brighter and more symbolic. The combination of strong geometric pattern and sensitive rendering is evident in Portrait of a Man.

Blumenschein was the most well-known of the Taos group because he continued to travel around the country, and his frequent exposure to new national art movements was reflected in his paintings, which tended to be more modern than his peers. As a testimony to his success, he won numerous awards from institutions like the National Academy of Design, New York; Fort Worth Art Museum, Texas; Brooklyn Museum, New York; National Arts Club, New York; and the Chicago World’s Fair. He was invited to exhibit at the Venice Biennial, and in venues in Budapest, Munich, Paris, England, New Zealand and Argentina. After his death in 1960, his home was registered as a National Historic Landmark.

His works can be found in the following collections: Stark Museum of Art, Orange, TX; Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, AZ; Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs, CO; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX; Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO; Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, Indianapolis, IN; Jonson Gallery of University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM; Museum of Art at Brigham Young University, Provo, UT; Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe, NM; National Academy of Design Museum, New York, NY; National Arts Club, New York, NY; National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, OK; Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; The Harwood Museum of Art, Taos, NM; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY.

References:

Peggy and Harold Samuels, The Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1976)
James K. Ballinger, Visitors to Arizona 1846 to 1980 (Phoenix, Ariz.: Phoenix Art Museum, 1980)
Walt Reed, The Illustrator in America, 1860-2000 (Watson-Guptill January 2001)