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Ernest Blumenschein papers, 1873-1964

Ernest Blumenschein papers, 1873-1964

Blumenschein, Ernest Leonard, 1874-1960

Painter, Illustrator

Representative image for Ernest Blumenschein papers, 1873-1964

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.

Summary: 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.

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.

Provenance

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

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

A Finding Aid to the Ernest Blumenschein Papers,
1873-1964
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.blumerne
Biographical Note
Ernest Blumenschein was born on May 26th, 1874 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He moved to Dayton, Ohio at the age of four, the same year his mother died. His father was a professional musician and composer, who chiefly made his living as a conductor of large choruses. During high school he contributed illustrations to "Tomfoolery," a handwritten and hand drawn weekly humor magazine. 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 first 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
.
Blumenschein first visited Taos in the fall of 1898 while traveling en route to Mexico on a sketching trip with Phillips. A wheel on the wagon carrying their belongings broke and they took it to the nearest blacksmith in the area, which was in Taos. Upon arriving at Taos, Blumenschein was struck by the "the superb beauty and serenity" of the landscape and was "stirred deeply." The town made a strong impact on both Blumenschein and Phillips, but while Phillips decided to stay, Blumenschein returned to New York for a short while and continued working as an illustrator. The following year Blumenschein decided to concentrate on painting, and re-enrolled at the Académie Julian while supporting himself with his commercial work. In 1903, he met Mary Greene, an American painter living in Paris and they married in 1905, and began sharing a Paris studio. Their daughter and only child, Helen, was born in November of 1909.
While Ernest Blumenschein continued to study in Paris, he also kept working as an illustrator, supporting himself easily. His illustration work was much in demand by American magazines and book publishers. Blumenschein was commissioned to illustrate Jack London's first book,
Love of Life
, in 1904. He also worked with other famous writers such as Stephen Crane, Willa Cather, and Joseph Conrad.
Upon returning to New York after the birth of their daughter, Ernest and Mary taught at the Pratt Institute. Ernest spent every summer in Taos. In 1919, the family moved permanently to Taos, with Helen returning to New York for school. It was during this time that Blumenschein co-founded the Taos Society of Artists and became part of the Taos art colony. For four decades, Blumenschein created paintings of the landscape, local inhabitants, the Taos Pueblo culture, and city skylines. He won numerous awards for his work and exhibited widely. His work was responsible for changing perceptions about the native culture and peoples of the area - the Navajo and Pueblo Indians. Blumenschein also indulged his love of the outdoors and sports. He avidly camped, played tennis, and was part of the Taos amateur baseball team. His artistic output in the 1950s was hampered by his declining health, and the death of Mary in 1958. Blumenschein died in June of 1960, and his ashes are repositioned at the Taos Pueblo Reservation.
Arrangement
The collection is arranged into 7 series:
Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1873-1971 (Boxes 1, OV1; 17 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1891-1970 (Box 1; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 3: Personal Business Records, 1918-1950s (Box 1; 4 folders)
Series 4: Writings, 1880s-1959 (Box 1-2; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 5: Artwork, 1888-1925 (Box 2; 0.25 linear feet)
Series 6: Printed Materials, 1891-1964 (Box 2, OV1; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 7: Photographs, 1880s-1955 (Box 2, OV1; 0.25 linear feet)
Provenance
Donated 1971 by Helen Greene Blumenschein, daughter of Ernest Blumenschein.
Processing Information
The collection was originally processed upon receipt for microfilming on reels 269 and 270. The entire collection was re-processed and described by Michael Yates in 2008 and digitized in 2009 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Additional Forms Available

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.

Restrictions on Access

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

How to Cite This Collection

Ernest Blumenschein papers, 1873-1964. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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