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Ernest Blumenschein papers, 1873-1964

Ernest Blumenschein papers, 1873-1964

Blumenschein, Ernest Leonard, 1874-1960

Painter, Illustrator

The papers of Ernest Leonard Blumenschein in the Archives of American Art were digitized in 2009. The bulk of the papers have been scanned, and total 2,772 images.

Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Collection Information

Size: 2.1 linear ft.

Biographical/Historical Note

Ernest Blumenschein (1874-1960) was a painter, illustrator, and violinist in Taos, N.M. Besides his artistic talents, Ernest Blumenschein was a skilled violin player, and was awarded a scholarship to the Cincinnati College of Music. In 1892, Blumenschein auditioned for the New York National Conservatory, and was chosen by Anton Dvorak for the role of first violin. With the income from playing violin, Blumenschein attended classes at the Art Students League. In 1892, Ernest Blumenschein traveled to Paris to study at the Académie Julian. While in Paris, he met Joseph Henry Sharp who inspired Blumenschein with his stories and sketches of the American southwest, particularly the Taos area. He returned to American in 1896, rented a studio with another Académie Julian student Bert Phillips, and began a successful career as a commercial illustrator working for magazines such as Century, Harper's, Scribner's, and McClure's. Ernest and his wife, Mary returned ton New York, after the birth of their daughter, Helen; they taught at the Pratt Institute. In 1919, the family moved permanently to Taos. Later, Blumenschein co-founded the Taos Society of Artists and became part of the Taos art colony.


Donated 1971 by Helen Greene Blumenschein, daughter of Ernest Blumenschein.

Related Materials

The Fray AngÔelico ChÔavez History Library in Santa Fe, New Mexico holds papers related to Ernest Blumenschein, Mary Greene Blumenschein, and Helen Greene Blumenschein.


Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Scope and Contents

The papers of southwest painter and illustrator Ernest Blumenschein measure 2.1 linear feet and date from 1873-1964. The collection documents Blumenschein's artistic career, his relationship with his wife and daughter, his love of the American southwest, and his involvement in the art community of Taos, New Mexico. Found are biographical materials, personal and professional correspondence, scattered personal business records, writings, a large amount of juvenilia artwork, and photographs of artwork.

Biographical materials include biographical sketches, school notebooks and curriculum vita, family genealogical materials and other family records, certificates, diplomas, and materials commemorating Blumenschein's election to the National Academy of Design. Also found are scattered ephemera items, such as membership cards, tickets, and travel materials.

Correspondence consists primarily of letters between Blumenschein, his wife Mary, and his daughter Helen. These discuss Blumeschein's career, domestic life, financial matters, Helen's schooling, and travel. Blumenschein's activities during World War I are documented by correspondence with the Committee of Public Information, the Salmagundi Club, and with Aide de Camps of army bases. There are a few letters from other artists and writers including William Glackens, Walt Kuhn, Ward Lockwood, Booth Tarkington, and a long letter from Cass Gilbert.

Scattered personal business records consist of a guest list, a list of Blumenschein works in a private collection, a jury duty certificate, and a car payment record.

Writings include personal, critical, and creative writings. There are writings by Blumenschein about the founding of the Taos Society of Artists and the artistic community of Taos and his memoirs about his first trip to Taos. Additional writings include a satirical discussion of modern art, and essays about artists John Gaw Meem, Joseph Henry Sharp, and Walter Ufer, and discussions of select paintings. Blumenschein also wrote of his travels in Paris, Switzerland, and Pittsburgh, as well as about French churches and cemeteries. Creative writings explore the landscape, life and culture of the American southwest.

Artwork consists primarily of fourteen folders of Blumenschein's illustrations for "Tomfoolery," a handwritten and hand drawn magazine that Blumenschein contributed to in high school. His illustrations for "Tomfoolery" include portraits, caricatures, and sequential art. Also found is one folder of small sketches.

Printed materials about Blumenschein include clippings, exhibition announcements, and exhibition catalogs. There are also brochures related to the Taos Art Colony and a 1902 menu for a Salmagundi Club program/dinner Also found here is a 1915 signed menu from a National Academy of Design event signed by Gifford Beal, George Bellows, and Eugene Spiecher among others.

Photographs include two portraits of Blumenschein and a group portrait of National Academy of Design members that includes Blumenschein. There are also photographs of Blumeschein's artwork and installation views of Blumenschein exhibitions.

The bulk of this collection was digitized in 2009 and is available via the Archives of American Art's website. Materials which have not been scanned include photographs of artwork, negatives, news clippings, and all but a few printed reproductions of artwork.

The papers of Ernest Leonard Blumenschein in the Archives of American Art were digitized in 2009. The bulk of the papers have been scanned, and total 2,772 images.

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

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