EMIL CARLSEN ARCHIVES

Emil Carlsen Archives is a Non-profit organization running the world's largest visual archive of the work of painter Emil Carlsen [1848-1932]

Søren Emil Carlsen : Skagenmaleren fra Manhattan [Soren Emil Carlsen : Skagen painter from Manhattan] by Kim Lykke Jensen, [Mørke] : Vældgungerne, 2008 [Narayana Press, Gylling, Denmark]

January 1, 2008
“Soren Emil Carlsen: The Hammershoi of Manhattan” by Kim Lykke Jensen, Narayana Press, Gylling, Denmark, 2008

“Soren Emil Carlsen: Skagen painter of Manhattan” by Kim Lykke Jensen, Narayana Press, Gylling, Denmark, 2008

ORIGINAL TEXT

Forord
”Emil Carlsens nylige død fjerner ham fra kredsen af de allerfineste og dygtigste malere i den amerikanske kunst. Han var født i Danmark, men levede det meste af sit liv i USA, alligevel var Danmark så tydelig i hans blod, hans visioner og i hans håndelag”, skrev kunstanmelderen Elisabeth Luther Cary i et stort opslået mindeord i New York Times ved kunstnerens død i 1932.

Men hvem var han så, denne store danske maler ved navn Søren Emil Carlsen? Retter man blikket mod den danske kunstlitteratur bliver man ikke meget klogere på det spørgsmål. Det på trods af, at han er et meget stort navn i USA og repræsenteret på alle de største museer derovre. Derfor denne bog.

Carlsen voksede op i et københavnsk velhaverhjem og uddannede sig til arkitekt på kunstakademiet. Da han var midt i tyverne, begyndte eventyrlysten at rykke i ham, og han emigrerede til USA. Efter mange trængsler lykkedes det ham at slå overbevisende igennem på den amerikanske kunstscene.

På grund af sin succes som maler, havde han økonomisk mulighed for at rejse til Danmark adskillige gange i sit liv. Når Carlsen var hjemme, opholdt han sig hovedsageligt på kunstnerkolonien på Skagen.

Emil Carlsen malede indenfor flere forskellige genrer. I dag er han mest kendt for sin store og meget fine produktion af opstillinger, men han malede også rigtigt mange marine- og landskabsbilleder. Desuden portrætter, interiører og skulpturer i et noget mindre omfang. Især i landskabskunsten, men også i en række af opstillingerne, er der klare referencer til den danske symbolisme, som man blandt andet ser hos brødrene Hammershøi og Julius Paulsen.

Emil Carlsen var langt fra den eneste danske maler, der har prøvet lykken i USA. Efter farveplancherne følger en kort gennemgang af de danske malere, der fik succes på den anden side af Atlanterhavet.

Denne bog er blevet til på baggrund af en lang række avisartikler fra samtidens USA, private breve, støvede arkivalier og antikvariske bøger om amerikansk malerkunst.

Bagerst i bogen er der to artikler skrevet af Carlsen selv i 1908 og 1909. De er ment som en introduktion til henholdsvis stilleben-maleri og brug af tempera. De giver et fint indblik i hans egne arbejdsmetoder, hans evner som lærer og hele filosofien bag hans kunst.
Bogen er ikke tænkt som et tungt kunsthistorisk værk med dybe tolkninger, men skal mere ses som en introduktion til malerens liv og værker.
Herfra skal lyde en stor tak til alle dem, der har hjulpet med tilblivelsen af denne bog. Tak til museer, arkiver, biblioteker, gallerier, auktionshuse, private samlere og ikke mindst tak til Preben Juul Madsen for gennemlæsning af manuskriptet.

Kim Lykke Jensen, foråret 2008

Hjemmet i Danmark
Søren Emil Carlsen blev født i København den 19. oktober 1848 og døbt en måned senere i Helligåndskirken som søn af kolonialhandler og urtekræmmer Carl Adolph Junius Carlsen og Ane Dorothea Raa. Forældrene var godt oppe i trediverne, da de fik ham som deres første barn. Barndomshjemmet lå på Store Kjøbmagergade 47 (i dag hjørnet af Købmagergade og Skindergade) i det centrale København, blot et stenkast fra Rundetårn.  Faderen var en driftig forretningsmand, og der manglede ikke noget i barndomshjemmet. Moderen var naturligvis hjemmegående, og havde god tid til kreative sysler. Ligesom så mange andre kvinder i det lidt bedre borgerskab, var hun en ivrig blomstermaler. I den første halvdel af 1800-tallet var hun en af de mange kvinder, der modtog undervisning hos den store blomstermaler I.L. Jensen (1800-1856). Emil beundrede sin mor og satte stor pris på hende.  ”Hun var en meget dygtig kvinde. Hun var meget lille, hendes vægt var aldrig over 50 kg.”, fortalte Emil Carlsen i et interview i 1920´erne.  Emil Carlsen havde også en 7 år yngre bror, Carl Carlsen. Han kom først i handelslære, men fik som 18-årig lov til at uddanne sig til kunstner.  Han gik på kunstakademiet fra 1874-1879 og blev en ganske habil maler. Han malede blandt andet landskaber, opstillinger og genrebilleder, der af og til havde et socialrealistisk indhold.  Emil Carlsen havde sin skolegang på Den von Westenske Institution på Nørregade, der også blev kaldt Bohrs Latinskole på grund af en meget markant skoleleder. Skolen blev nedlagt i 1893, men nåede inden da at have en række prominente elever, blandt andre Georg Brandes, Peter Faber, Viggo Stuckenberg, Holger Drachmann og altså Emil Carlsen.  Efter skolegangen begyndte han at studere arkitektur under J. A. Stillmann og dimitterede fra Teknisk institut. Han frekventerede kunstakademiet i København fra 1866-1869.  I 1869 var han for første og eneste gang repræsenteret på Charlottenborgs Forårsudstilling. Han udstillede en opmåling og tegning af Christian IIIs monument i Roskilde Domkirke, for hvilken han modtog Neuhausens Præmie.  I mellemtiden var han flyttet hjemmefra til en ejendom, der lå på Lille Kannikestræde 3, få hundrede meter fra barndomshjemmet.

Allerede mens han gik på kunstakademiet interesserede han sig for malerkunst og tog undervisning hos marinemaleren Christian Blache (1838-1920). Senere brugte han meget tid sammen med sin fjerne slægtning, den næsten jævnaldrende Viggo Johansen (1851-1935). De to malede flere gange sammen ved kysterne på Nordsjælland.  Carlsens oliemalerier fra den periode var ret ubehjælpsomt udført. Han var markant bedre til at tegne, hvilket havde været en af hans store forcer på kunstakademiet.

Der er bevaret enkelte malerier fra Emil Carlsens hånd fra før han emigrerede. Et af dem blev solgt hos auktionshuset Herholdt-Jensen i juni 2000. Det var et lille marinebillede malet i 1870, der tydeligt udstiller Carlsens manglende skoling som maler (fig 2).  På de danske museer findes kun et enkelt billede af Emil Carlsen, nemlig tegningen, udsigt mod Christianshavn, ligeledes fra 1870. Den befinder sig på Københavns Bymuseum (fig. 3).

Da Carlsen var på session i 1871 følte han sig mere som maler end arkitekt og opgav derfor kunstmaler som sit erhverv. Ifølge forsvarets optegnelser var han uden legemelige skavanker og målte ved sessionen 66,5 tommer (174 cm.). Carlsen blev erklæret egnet til infanteriet. Han aftjente værnepligten ved 18. bataljon i Helsingør og senere ved 15. bataljon i København. Umiddelbart efter at have aftjent sin værnepligt rejste han til USA.

De første år i USA 1872-1884
Emil Carlsen ankom til New York i 1872. Han står ikke opført i det danske udvandrerarkiv. Derfor har han enten købt biletten til Amerika gennem en udenlandsk rejseagent eller haft hyre på et skib. Det første er mest sandsynligt. Ifølge dåbsattesten fra Helligånd Sogn var Carlsen knap 24 år gammel, da han for første gang satte foden på amerikansk jord. Det er ikke lykkedes at finde ud af hvorfor, men det lader til at den unge dansker benyttede lejligheden til at lyve sig fem år yngre. I hvert fald står han opført som født d. 19 oktober 1853 overalt i den amerikanske kunstlitteratur og ikke d. 19. oktober 1848, som sandheden er.

”Jeg kom over til staterne i 1872 og tog videre til Chicago for at arbejde for en arkitekt. Han gav mig 20$ om ugen. Da jeg ville rejse, tilbød han mig det dobbelte, men jeg rejste alligevel. Så åbnede jeg en tegnestue, men det gik ikke. Min kompagnon stak af med alle pengene. Han solgte også et stort maleri, jeg havde malet og tog pengene. Så gik jeg tilbage til arkitekten, som jeg tidligere havde arbejdet for, men nu ville han kun give mig 10$ om ugen. Jeg arbejdede for ham et stykke tid alligevel. Han vidste, at jeg havde brug for pengene”, fortalte Emil Carlsen til sin gode ven kunsthistorikeren Frederic Newlin Price, der i juli 1922 skrev et længere interview med Emil Carlsen til magasinet International Studio. I dette interview beskrev Carlsen indgående de første år af sin karriere.

Efter skuffelsen med arbejdet som arkitekt, kom han i kontakt med den danske marinemaler Laurits Bernhard Holst (1848-1934), der selv var emigreret til Amerika et par år forinden:

”Den danske maler, Holst, havde set nogle af mine skitser med marinemotiver, som jeg havde lavet i Danmark og tilbød mig 3$ om dagen for at arbejde for ham. Jeg malede skibe og figurer og satte lærreder på blændrammer for ham. Han havde rigeligt at lave. Jeg havde en lille skitse som jeg havde malet i Helsingør. Det lille billede var i hans galleri. Holst solgte en dag maleriet til en samler, der kom forbi en dag og sagde: ”Jeg synes rigtigt godt om din skitse dér”. Holst sagde, at det var et lille billede han engang havde malet, og samleren købte maleriet. Så sagde jeg til Holst, at han ikke havde nogen ret til at sælge mit billede, men han sagde blot: ”Det har du ret i”, og gav mig 5$ for det. Han tog tilbage til Danmark og blev senere en anerkendt maler. Før han tog tilbage, sagde han til mig, at jeg bare skulle beholde atelieret. Det var sådan jeg rigtigt kom i gang som maler”, forklarede Emil Carlsen i interviewet.
Bortset fra Holsts lidt anløbne moral, lader han til at have været et positivt bekendtskab for den unge danske maler. I hvert fald udviklede Carlsen sig meget i den første tid i USA. Hans marinebilleder, der stadig fulgte den klassiske danske malertradition, blev af en meget højere kvalitet (fig. 4).

Efter Holsts hjemrejse gik det mindre godt med at få det hele til at hænge sammen. Carlsen var lige ved at droppe maleriet, men så kom der et tilbud fra uventet kant: Billedhuggeren, Leonard Wells Volk (1828-1895) manglede en tegnelærer til kunstskolen på Chicago Art Institute. Det tog Carlsen imod med kyshånd. Han blev den første lærer på skolen og fik en god løn. Samtidig fik han mulighed for at male en del ved siden af arbejdet. Han beholdt dog ikke jobbet særligt længe.

”Maleren Lawrence Carmichael Earle(1845-1921), som for nylig var kommet hjem fra Europa, rådede mig til at tage tilbage på den anden side af Atlanten for at studere. Det råd fulgte jeg. Det var i 1875. Jeg tog til Danmark, og videre til Paris, hvor jeg studerede indtil jeg ikke havde flere penge. Det varede 6 måneder, og så tog jeg tilbage til New York”.

I Danmark nåede han at udføre enkelte billeder, blandt andet billedet fisker og søn (fig.5), inden han tog til Paris. I Frankrig søgte han privatundervisning ved mindre maleskoler og var en flittig gæst på byens museer. Fra opholdet i Paris kendes enkelte landskabsbilleder(fig. 16) og flere opstillinger. Han vendte tilbage til USA i begyndelsen af 1876 uden en øre på lommen, men som en dygtigere maler.

”Da jeg kom tilbage, fik jeg et atelier tæt ved Murphy. Han havde arbejdet i Chicago og jeg kendte ham derfra, hvor han havde taget sig af Elkins´ atelier og renset pensler og gjort rent. Det var der han begyndte at male, og allerede der var hans billeder lovende. I New York boede jeg på Twenty-third Street i et pensionat. Jeg tog tolv vittighedstegninger med til en forhandler nede i byen, der valgte en ud og sagde, at han måske kunne bruge flere. Jeg fik 2$ og ikke en cent mere, og de beholdt alle tegningerne. Jeg blev nødt til at sende bud efter nogle penge hjemme fra Danmark. I 1876 tog jeg til Boston.”

I Boston udstillede Carlsen for første gang. Det var i 1877, hvor han var repræsenteret med to malerier på Boston Art Club. Det var to marinemalerier med titlerne: ”Ude på Kattegat” og ”Tangvognen”. Men det var en hård periode for den unge dansker. Det var svært at få mad på bordet. Men han blev ved med at male.  I et brev fra 1927 fortalte en tidligere elev om et billede han for nylig havde set ved et galleri til 700 dollars, og han beskrev det for Carlsen. Han skrev følgende tilbage om maleriet:

”Dengang var jeg mere end lykkelig, hvis jeg bare havde penge til at få noget at spise. Jeg malede billeder til 5 dollars og sagde til folk, at de kunne komme forbi om eftermiddagen og hente deres billeder (som de havde bestilt om morgenen)”.

I 1879 prøvede han at holde en auktion over sine billeder ved et auktionshus i Boston. 30 malerier var til salg, men kun 17 blev solgt og til en lav pris. Det var ikke nær nok til at dække auktionens omkostninger. Carlsen sad nu i gæld til auktionshuset. Derfor blev han nødt til at opgive sit atelier. Han fik i stedet et job som gravør og teknisk tegner. Et arbejde han egentlig ikke brød sig om. I starten fik han en ussel løn, men det blev med tiden mere lukrativt. Efter et par år havde han betalt sin gæld og sparet en del penge op. Så han sagde jobbet op og åbnede et lille atelier, hvor han begyndte at undervise og genoptog maleriet.

Og så kom der gang i udstillingsvirksomheden. Han var igen repræsenteret på udstillingen på Boston Art Club i 1881. Denne gang med billedet ”Tangsamlere”. Året efter udstillede han billedet ”Majmorgen”. I 1883 udstillede han for første gang en opstilling. Samme år var blomsterbilledet ”Pæoner” med på den årlige udstilling ”Pennsylvania Academy of the fine Arts” i Philadelphia. Det var i øvrigt på dette tidspunkt, at Emil Carlsen holdt op med at bruge sit fornavn Søren.

Gennem årene i Boston oplevede han en stigende succes både blandt kritikerne og kunstkøberne. I forbindelse med udstillingen i Boston Art Club i 1884 blev to af hans opstillinger fremhævet som nogle af udstillingens bedste malerier. Flere kendte kunstsamlere fik i den periode øjnene op for Carlsens talenter, blandt andre storsamleren Thomas B. Clarke fra New York. Han købte et billede på en af udstillingerne, der forestillede en død hane, et kobberfad og nogle køkkenremedier. En dag kom en kunsthandler T. J. Blakeslee fra New York på besøg i atelieret. Han og Carlsen lavede den aftale, at hvis Carlsen rejste til Paris for at male, ville Blakeslee hver måned købe et maleri af ham. Der var nemlig i tiden en stor efterspørgsel på malerier fra udlandet og især fra Frankrig.
Carlsen var fascineret af Paris fra sit ophold nogle år tidligere, og var ikke svær at overtale. Ligeledes tiltalte det ham at se frem til en nogenlunde fast indkomst.
Hans bror, Carl Carlsen havde også netop været i Paris i et par år, og havde skrevet hjem til Emil om alt det spændende, der rørte sig i tiden.  Emil Carlsen tog derfor til byernes by på ny.

Paris 1884-1886
Opholdet i Paris varede godt 2 år. I perioden boede der en del amerikanske malere i Paris, blandt andre Metcalf, Mowbray, Isham. Carlsen så en smule til dem, men havde mest at gøre med de franske malere. Han traf også flere af de danske malere, der opholdt sig i Paris i midten af 1880´erne, blandt andre Julius Paulsen og hans gamle ven, Viggo Johansen.

I Paris malede Emil Carlsen hovedsageligt blomsterbilleder, især med gule roser, fordi det var den slags motiver, der lettest kunne afsættes, mente Blakeslee.
Carlsen fik efterhånden kontakt til andre kunsthandlere i USA, der også aftog blomsterbilleder.  Man fornemmer, at fabrikationen af blomsterbilleder hurtigt kom til at hænge ham ud af halsen. De var udført ganske godt, men var ret indholdsløse, og ikke repræsentative for hans øvrige produktion (fig. 7).
Men når Carlsen ikke malede på bestilling, udviste han et blændende talent, der demonstrerede en stærk påvirkning fra tidens nyeste strømninger i den europæiske malerkunst. Det kom især til udtryk i nogle landskabsbilleder fra perioden. Blandt andet maleriet fra Moncour (fig. 8). Lige så stille blev hans farvepalet lysere og lysere, i modsætning til tidligere, hvor de mørke farver havde domineret.

For sin egen skyld begyndte han i Paris også at male opstillinger, flere med fin kinesisk porcelæn, der senere blev hans varemærke. Han kopierede også billeder af de gamle mestre, som han beundrede på byens museer. Blandt andre Chardin, Tizian og Vermeer. Han studerede også Renoir og Monet og tog deres spontanitet og friskhed til sig.  Men det var nu ingen dans på roser at være i Paris. Rent økonomisk kunne det hænge sammen, men så heller ikke meget mere end det:

”Carlsen fortæller mange historier om tiden i Paris, tæt ved Louvre: Hvordan de blev nødt til at spise frugt som de egentligt skulle male, hvordan de måtte sætte dem selv i gæld for at kunne købe de blomster, de havde brug for”, skrev Newlin Price i sin artikel fra 1922.

Til udstillingen på Salonen i Paris i 1885 havde Emil Carlsen glæden af at være repræsenteret med et stort billede med titlen ”kvinde klargør fjerkræ”. Det blev øjeblikkeligt solgt til en amerikansk samler, og til en virkelig god pris, der fik Carlsen til at føle sig som en holden mand et stykke tid. Det gav optimisme, og pustede til håbet om at kunne male mere frit.  Men kunsthandleren Blakeslee blev ved med at forlange malerier med gule roser. Carlsen blev til sidst så træt af at male blomster, at han brød kontrakten og tog tilbage til New York.

Tilbage i USA – 1887-1900
Tiden i Paris havde været uhyre vigtig for Carlsens udvikling som maler. Det var det han fandt sit personlige udtryk som maler. Stilheden og melankolien i hans sjæl omsatte han til fantastiske opstillinger og naturskildringer.

Tilbage i New York fik han igen et atelier. Han både malede og solgte mange billeder. Efterhånden havde han vundet sig et navn i Amerika. Efter at have været hjemme et års tid fik han tilbudet om at blive leder af San Francisco Art Association School. Carlsen flyttede derfor til Californien. Han blev en populær lærer blandt eleverne og dyrkede det sociale liv i flere sociale klubber, blandt andet den kendte ”Bohemian Club”. Carlsen var dog ikke tilfreds med arbejdsmiljøet på skolen, og var træt af ikke at have tid til selv at male. Derfor sagde han stillingen op efter to år og blev i stedet lærer på en anden kunstskole, ”The Art Students League”.  Han fik nu bedre tid til at male og blev samtidig medlem af kunstnersammenslutningen ”Society of American Artists”. I den periode begyndte han også at male portrætter, nok mest for at supplere sin indkomst. Han påtog sig også en udsmykningsopgave for rigmanden William H. Crocker. Carlsen skulle, udover at male billeder til Crockers hus, også hjælpe med til at lave designet til lofter, vægge og indrette interiøret.

Carlsen udstillede flere gange i det Californiske på de få udstillingssteder, der fandtes. Men det gik ikke så godt med at sælge billederne. Derfor besluttede han sig for at tage tilbage til ”The Big Apple”.  ” Jeg tager hen, hvor folk køber malerier og hvor der er en mulighed for at udstille dem… Jeg synes det er ubehageligt at være en pioner på et sted hvor rige mennesker køber deres billeder i Europa eller ovre på østkysten, og de mennesker, der gerne vil købe lokale billeder, ikke rigtigt har råd til dem”, blev han citeret for i den lokale avis.  I slutningen af 1891 tog han tilbage til New York.

I de næste årtier brugte han en del af sin tid på at undervise. Han havde både private elever og underviste på National Academy of Design, på Philadelphia Academy of Fine arts og på Columbia University. I perioden flyttede han meget omkring og var registreret på adskillige forskellige adresser.  I 1892 var han repræsenteret på udstillingen ved Society of American Artists med en stor opstilling, der ”.. viser at Emil Carlsen ikke har glemt sin kunnen efter han skiftede San Francisco ud med området langs atlanterhavskysten endnu engang”, skrev New York Times.  Den kunstneriske åre strømmede igen efter hjemkomsten. Han malede rigtigt mange kvalitetsopstillinger i 90´erne, foruden en række marinebilleder.  Men han eksperimenterede også en hel del. Han udførte blandt andet en del blomsterbilleder i meget lyse toner og med impressionistiske strøg. Carlsen forsøgte sig også med at arbejde i pastel og vandfarve (side XX), men nåede frem til konklusionen, at oliemaleriet var det medie, der passede bedst til hans temperament og kunstneriske mål.  I midten af 1890´erne malede han nogle opstillinger, der afveg en del fra hans øvrige produktion, blandt andet punchbowlen og den røde sko (fig. 24). Her rykkede mennesket, den omkringliggende verden tættere på. Det distraherede udtrykket af meditativ ro som ellers er så kendetegnende for størstedelen af hans produktion. Det er muligt, at det også gik op for Carlsen, han vendte nemlig tilbage til det mere enkle udtryk.

I løbet af 90´erne blev Emil Carlsen mere og mere forbundet med produktionen af opstillinger. I forbindelse med den årlige udstilling på Society of American Artists i 1896 omtaltes han som stilleben-maler i New York Times, hvis anmelder var overordentlig overrasket over at se Carlsen repræsenteret med et portrætbillede af en ung kvinde (fig. 9). Den unge kvinde var ikke hvem som helst. Hun hed Luella May Ruby og var markant yngre end den næsten 50-årige Carlsen. Alligevel forelskede de sig hovedkulds i hinanden.  I slutningen af 1800-tallet blev Carlsen fascineret af at male hvide genstande, eksempelvis keramik, porcelæn, hvidløg og klæder. Han mente, at det skabte en ro, balance og et forfinet udtryk i billederne, en holdning han havde til fælles med Vilhelm Hammershøi.

Privatliv og succes 1900-1932

Emil Carlsen blev gift med Luella May Ruby i 1896 og sønnen Dines blev født i 1901.  I 1905 byggede Carlsen et sommerhus i landsbyen Falls Village i Connecticut, udstyret med et stort atelier. Stedet kom til at danne rammen om en stor del af familiens liv. Der var her han fik ro til at male sine billeder. Familien opholdt sig på landstedet så tit de havde mulighed for det. Men også i deres store lejlighed på 43 East 59th. Street på Manhattan hvilede der en stor ro, på trods af det pulserende byliv på den anden side af vinduerne:

I Emil Carlsens stille atelier i New York City hviler en atmosfære af gamle dage. Det indtryk er forstærket af interessante forstudier og lærreder af hans ven, Alden Weir, et stort ufuldendt billede af Chase og andre minder fra de store 90´ere”, beskrev kunsthistorikeren John Steele i 1927 i magasinet International Studio.

Her efter århundredeskiftet var Emil Carlsen endelig fuldt skolet, teknisk og kunstnerisk. Det skete samtidig med hans offentlige anerkendelse og roen i privatlivet. Det skabte en endnu mere udtalt harmoni i hans malerier. Han lagde sig fast på den afdæmpede og stemningsfulde farvepalette i såvel landskabsbilleder som opstillinger. Han blev dog ved med at eksperimentere, men nu udelukkende i forhold til maletekniske principper, især præparering af lærrederne, kombination af forskellige typer maling og slutbehandling af det færdige maleri.  I starten af det nye århundrede blev stilleben-maleriet umoderne i Amerika. Om det er derfor Carlsen i højere grad vendte tilbage til at male landskaber og mariner i det fri, vides ikke. Carlsens opstillinger høstede ellers ros, hvor end de blev udstillet. Og det lod ikke til, at han havde problemer med at afsætte dem. De fleste af de udstillede billeder var solgt på forhånd. Alligevel skrev New York Herald i 1904:

” I årevis har Carlsen været kendt som stilleben-maler og selvom hans arbejder var fremragende, har det bragt det småt med økonomisk udkomme. På det seneste har han rettet blikket mod landskabsmaleriet, der har været en fordel for hans i forvejen gode fornemmelse for farver”

Carlsen malede sine landskabsbilleder fra residensen i Falls Village, men malede også en del ved kysten i Ogunquit i Maine, i Connecticut, ved Niagara Falls og ikke mindst i Danmark.

Han malede efter århundredeskiftet især lyriske, nærmest symbolistiske skovpartier, diffuse landskaber og stemningsfulde marinebilleder. Kritikerne og kunstkøberne kunne lide, hvad de så. Carlsen udstillede nu hvert år på National Academy of Design og på andre offentlige udstillinger.

I 1904 kom den endelige blåstempling af Emil Carlsens kunst. Han blev nemlig valgt til ”Associate of the National Academy”, hvilket svarer til medlem af Akademiets Plenarforsamling herhjemme. Samme år vandt han den præstigefyldte pris ”the Shaw Price” ved Society of American Artists udstilling. Han blev også præmieret med Inness-prisen ved Salmagundi Club. Sidst men ikke mindst modtog han guldmedaljen ved Verdensudstillingen i St. Louis for opstillingen ”Blackfish and Clams” (fig. 29), der i 1905 blev doneret til Metropolitan Museum, hvor det stadig kan ses.  Bestillingerne fra landets kunstsamlere strømmede nu ind.  Fra gennembrudsåret til hans død, vandt Emil Carlsen enten en eller flere priser eller pengepræmier på alle de store udstillinger i USA.
Både ved Verdensudstillingen i San Francisco i 1915 og i Philadelphia i 1926, vandt han guldmedaljen.  Naturligt nok blev mange gallerier og kunsthandlere rundt om i det store land interesseret i at repræsentere Carlsen. Og salget gik forrygende.  En række seperatudstillinger blev nu afholdt.  Eksempelvis afholdt Carlsen en stor udstilling af overvejende billeder malet i Danmark i det ansete galleri, Bauer-Folsom på 5th Avenue. Udstillingen var en stor succes, og Carlsens billeder blev rost til skyerne:

Det er en forfriskende interessant udstilling med værker, der udtrykker en sjælden kraft i deres ærlige og enkle udtryk… Hans arbejder reflekterer et forstandigt og rent sind. Kort sagt er Carlsen en mand, der maler hvad der tiltaler ham, på en måde, der behager ham, og det behager publikum”, stod der blandt andet at læse i en af New Yorks aviser.

I 1909 udstillede Carlsen også internationalt, nemlig på Bienalen i Venedig, en by som han havde besøgt året før på en større Europa-rejse.
Selvom der var rigeligt at lave i atelieret, blev der stadig tid til at undervise, blandt andet i stilleben på National Academy, ligesom han skrev til tidsskriftet ”Palette and Bench”. Blandt andet de to store artikler om stilleben-maleri og brug af tempera, der er gengivet bagerst i denne bog.

George A. Hearn, der var en af landets største kunstmæcener, gav i maj 1910 en større donation til the Metropolitan Museum, bestående af en samling af amerikansk kunst. Deriblandt Emil Carlsens ”Open Sea” (fig. 34). Maleriet blev fremhævet som en af samlingens højdepunkter af byens kritikere. New York Times skrev blandt andet:

De fantastiske skyer, som hæver sig majestætisk er yppige i farven …Maleriet har stor kunstnerisk værdi. Carlsen præsterer enestående ved at fylde billedet med luft uden overhovedet at miste skønheden i hans overflader, som har den dyrebareste kvalitet som i gammelt porcelæn
I samme forbindelse udlånte Hearn en række andre af Carlsens malerier fra hans private samling til museet.

På hjemmefronten levede familien Carlsen et harmonisk liv. Der er bevaret en lang række fotografier, der viser glade stunder for ægteparret og deres søn. Allerede fra barnsben udviste den unge Dines Carlsen en stor interesse og talent for at male og tegne. Han blev fremover en fast bestanddel i atelieret sammen med faderen og de to opbyggede et nært forhold og samhørighed i kunsten.  På udstillingen på National Academy i 1916 vandt Emil Carlsen nærmest som sædvanlig en pris, denne gang ”Saltus Gold Medal” for et marinebillede, der ifølge aviserne bevægede mange af udstillingens gæster med dets fredfyldte og trancelignende udtryk. På samme udstilling var 15-årige Dines for første gang også repræsenteret med et stilleben. Han modtog både en af de mindre priser, fik solgt maleriet og imponerede med sit talent.  Dines udviklede dog aldrig sit eget kunstneriske udtryk. Hans malerier forblev parafraser over faderens opstillinger, men han levede dog af sin kunst livet igennem.

Emil Carlsen havde et meget behageligt væsen. Det gjorde, at han havde mange venner i den amerikanske kunstverden. Deriblandt malerne Childe Hassam, Julian Alden Weir, Kenyon Cox, Harry Siddons Mowbray og William Merrit Chase. Han dyrkede de sociale relationer i forskellige klubber og kunstnersammenslutninger.  Carlsen blev i løbet af 1900-tallet mere og mere anerkendt. Han ansås som den gamle, vise gentleman i amerikansk kunst, og blandt venner blev han aldrig kaldt andet end ”Old Carlsen”.

Efterspørgslen på hans billeder blev ikke mindre. Især det eksklusive Macbeth Gallery kunne sælge alle hans ting til skyhøje priser. Omtalen i New Yorks medier var også markant. Hver gang han udstillede et billede, fulgte en rosende omtale. Som for eksempel i 1919, hvor han vandt endnu en prestigefyldt pris på akademiets vinterudstilling, nemlig Carnegie Prize for maleriet ”Bølge ved Skagen”:

Det er et bemærkelsesværdigt stykke kunst. Ingen maler forstår bedre at behandle hans materiale.. Farven er vidunderlig, som tonen i gammelt kinesisk porcelæn, og overfladen er smuk og fri for oliemalingens blanke overflade. Maleriet vinder prisen overbevisende”, skrev New York Times.

Også på de lokale auktioner opnåede hans malerier høje priser. På malerkollegaen Chase´s dødsboauktion i 1912, solgtes en af hans opstillinger med en kedel til 620 dollars. Et maleri af E. Manet kunne købes til en lavere pris.  På kunstsamlerens Hearns dødsbo i 1920 var et af auktionens dyreste malerier et marinebillede af Carlsen solgt til 2000 dollars, som dengang var et svimlende beløb. Men ikke nær så svimlende som de priser hans malerier blev handlet til ved gallerierne. De fleste blev handlet til omkring 3000 dollars, men mange markant højere. Således blev der på et tidspunkt budt 15.000 dollars for et af hans malerier, som Carlsen ikke ville af med.  Efter han var blevet en holden mand, skete det nemlig flere gange, at han malede billeder som han var så tilfreds med, at han ikke for nogen pris ville skille sig af med. Således skrev Carlsen i et brev til Macbeth Gallery forud for en stor seperatudstilling i 1922:

Hvad angår billedet fra Tibet (fig. 53), vil jeg beholde det. Sæt det derfor til en meget høj pris, og selv til den pris er jeg ikke interesseret i at sælge det. Det er et ganske særligt billede med en finish som jeg aldrig vil kunne opnå igen”.

Set med danske øjne blev der i 1922 afholdt en speciel auktion på det eksklusive Hotel Plaza. Der var 63 billeder under hammeren. Ifølge New York Times tilhørte malerierne kunsthandelen og auktionshuset Winkel og Magnussen i København, og havde tidligere indgået i Montaignac-samlingen i Paris. På auktionen var næsten udelukkende franske topnavne: Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Dupre, Pissaro og så et enkelt billede af Emil Carlsen, en opstilling med æbler, der blev solgt på niveau med de franske navne. Det er ikke til at vide, hvordan Carlsen er havnet i den fine samling, eller hvorfor Winkel & Magnussen fik stablet en auktion på benene i USA.  I 1922 var Carlsen igen i skribentens rolle. Han bidrog som forfatter til bogen ”Julian Alden Weir, an Appreciation of his Life and Works”. Carlsen skrev et kapitel om maleren, der havde været hans ven gennem mange år og som netop var død.

Trods Carlsen var blevet så stort et navn i USA, var han stadig fuldstændig ukendt i samtidens Danmark. I 1921 blev han dog nævnt i en Rebild-tale afholdt af den Amerikanske ambassadør som et eksempel på en af de danskere, der havde gjort en forskel i det amerikanske samfund. I kunsthistorikeren og maleren Karl Madsens bog om Skagens Malere fra 1929, blev Carlsen også nævnt med ganske få linjer.  Selvom Carlsen i 1930´erne var godt oppe i årene, var han på ingen måde svækket. Han malede på livet løs og instruerede unge kunstnere, der søgte hans hjælp. Carlsen var glad og tilfreds med sit liv til det sidste.
Emil Carlsen døde den 2. januar 1932 i en alder af 83 år af et hjerteslag og efterlod sig ifølge New York Times en større arv til sine efterladte.

Typisk dansk

Emil Carlsen var 24 år gammel, da han flyttede til USA. Hele hans liv blev han ved med at sætte stor pris på sit hjemland og rejste efter datidens målestok utroligt mange gange til Danmark.  Der er i dag bevaret mange beskrivelser af personen Emil Carlsen, både i forbindelse med avisartikler fra samtidens USA og i forbindelse med forskellige brevvekslinger i det amerikanske kunstnermiljø.  Alt materialet peger på, at Carlsen forblev meget dansk i sin væremåde. Også efter han opnåede stor rigdom. Han var en meget beskeden og ydmyg mand, der var flittig bruger af ironi og sarkasme.  Erwin S. Barrie var leder af Grand Central Art Galleries i New York. Han solgte i 20´erne en mange af Carlsens malerier. I forbindelse med en retrospektiv udstilling i 1968, nævnte han følgende i forordet:

”Emil var en ret tynd mand med rødt skæg og var altid klædt i et gråt jakkesæt af tweed, der sikkert aldrig blev presset… Jeg kan huske engang, da jeg var ved at sælge et af hans opstillinger til en kunde. Jeg introducerede kunden for Emil, men han var ikke til megen gavn. Han fortalte kunden, at Childe Hassam var den dygtigste amerikanske maler, og jeg kunne ikke få ham til at sige noget som helst godt om sine egne billeder.”

Den samme beskedenhed gennemsyrede hele Carlsens væremåde. Han så aldrig sig selv som noget orakel eller guds gave til kunsten.  Kunstsamleren August Bontoux beskrev i et brev et møde mellem ham og den på det tidspunkt 78-årige Emil Carlsen.

” Jeg var overrasket over at se en livlig gentleman, som så ud til at være omkring 65 år gammel, velklædt, men meget, meget enkelt. Han havde et vildt skæg og bar briller. Alting pegede på en stærk personlighed, der var forblevet tro mod sig selv. Du véd Emil Carlsen er et stort navn og jeg havde forventet at se det modsatte. Jeg havde regnet med at se en velplejet, utilnærmelig åndsaristokrat, der gik meget op i sit ydre. Men rigdom og berømmelse havde ikke besmittet denne mands sjæl… Der er intet affekteret over ham. Han er jævn, venlig og ligefrem. Det beviser at storhed og ydmyghed kommer fra den samme rod.”

Selvom Emil Carlsen både holdt af skønheden i naturen og af sit hjemland, hvor der jo af og til er vinter, malede han aldrig snebilleder. Han hadede kulde. Han fik ellers tilbudt at bruge et mobilt atelier, bygget ovenpå en slæde, som hans gode ven maleren Alden Weir brugte en del. Men han nægtede. Det var også derfor han altid kun opholdt sig i Danmark om sommeren.  Hvor han ikke kunne lide sne, havde han et mere hjerteligt forhold til havet:

”Carlsens marinebilleder er udført med stor kærlighed. Carlsen elsker havet. En amerikansk maler beretter om engang han mødte Carlsen ved Ogunquit. Langs kysten i måneskin gjorde de holdt og kiggede udover det dybe mørke hav med dets funklende lysende vej mod horisonten. De stod som fortryllede, indtil Carlsen kastede sin hat ned på stranden og råbte: ”Min gud, hvor er det vidunderligt!”. Der er flere af Carlsens nocturner, der giver én følelsen af en ud af kroppen oplevelse og essensen af hans storhed og kærlighed”, skrev kunsthistorikeren Newlin Price i 1922.

På trods af, at Carlsen var et meget tolerant menneske, havde han ikke meget tilovers for den moderne kunst:

” Jeg er gammeldags. Jeg kan ikke forstå de mennesker, de kunne lige så godt smide en tomat på et lærred. Under alle omstændigheder er et maleri ikke godt, når det er grimt – det kan ikke kun være eksperimenterende, det skal også indeholde anden kvalitet end fabrikeret mærkværdighed”, sagde han i en samtale med Newlin Price kort før sin død.

I et brev til en af sine gamle elever i 1928, skrev Carlsen også, at malere som Matisse og Derain såmænd var nogle dygtige malere, men ”lidt nogle charlataner” i deres kunst.  Han bragte dog ikke kritikken ud i den offentlige debat, men holdt sine meninger for sig selv og sine nærmeste.

I Carlsens mindeord, der fyldte en helside i New York Times, blev Carlsens danske arv for første gang beskrevet. Det var kunstskribenten Elisabeth Luther Carry, der koblede Carlsens kunst sammen med den danske tradition. Hidtil var hans kunstneriske virke blevet holdt op mod landets egne malere, blandt andre Childe Hassam og Alden Weir, men det gjorde hun op med og beskrev ham som dansk i al hans virke.

”Når man ser tilbage på hans malerier, kommer man til at tænke på den danske holdning i forhold til landets keramikere, der fremstiller værkerne med en omhyggelighed og tålmodighed og en kræsen smag, eliminerende alt andet end de mest ophøjede former, den mest perfekte brænding som en base for designet”.

Og hun fortsatte med den danske vinkel:

De, der så de danske malerier udstillet på Brooklyn Museum for et par år siden vil finde det let at koble Carlsens kunst sammen med deres på basis af dens ærlighed og enkelthed…Hans arbejde er udtryk for danskernes særlige kvalitet, deres ligevægt og balance mellem det kølige og det følelsesmæssige”, skriver hun i mindeordet.

Hun sammenlignede derpå Carlsen med Vilhelm Hammershøi indgående, men redegjorde også for forskellene mellem de to kunstnere:

”Vilhelm Hammershøi, det melankolske geni, undertrykte ved hjælp af det grå al vreden fra hans ungdom og problemerne i hans skrøbelige sind, hvorimod Emil Carlsen giver udtryk for renheden i sit sind og glæde over livet. Alligevel er mystikken fra nord tilstede i begge kunstnere.”

Hun kritiserede derpå den amerikanske patriotisme og opfattelsen af, at alle udefrakommende tilegnede sig den amerikanske tone i kunsten. Det mente hun var noget vrøvl, da kunsten oftest sidder i sjælens arv. Ikke mindst mente hun, at Emil Carlsen var dansker med stort d i sin kunst og i sin væremåde.  ”Om de ved det eller ej, nu vi har mistet Carlsen, har vores samfund mistet åbenbaringen af en nations særpræg”, sluttede hun mindeordet med sigte til tidens kunstkritikere på parnasset.

Carlsen virkede som om og gav udtryk for, at han var ligeglad om folk kunne lide ham eller ej. Det afholdt ham dog ikke fra at være meget perfektionistisk og var meget kritisk overfor sin egen produktion.  To billeder fra 1931 vidner om denne perfektionisme. Da han var næsten færdig med en opstilling, som han havde arbejdet på i lang tid, var han ikke helt tilfreds med billedets balance, så han afbrød arbejdet og begyndte forfra. Begge billeder er afbildet her i bogen. Det er ikke nemt at se den store forskel, men det kunne kunstneren åbenbart selv.  Han var ikke blot perfektionistisk, men også en smule forfængelig i forhold til sin kunst. Sent i karrieren, efter han var kommet til penge, købte han flere af sine billeder tilbage for at destruere dem. Eksempelvis i 1927, hvor han faldt over tre tidlige billeder. ”Han gav 1100 dollars for dem, og tog hjem og brændte dem”, fortalte en af hans bekendte i et brev. Det samme har flere kendte danske malere i øvrigt også gjort, blandt andre Egil Jacobsen.  Carlsen købte sidst i sin karriere også flere billeder tilbage på grund af affektionsværdien. Blandt andet et portræt af Dines som barn.

Rejserne

Langt de fleste af Carlsens malerier fra Danmark stammer fra Skagen. Det var et naturligt sted at slå sig ned. Der var både masser af sol, hav og lyse landskaber. Han kendte desuden flere af kunstnerne på kolonien på toppen af Jylland. Blandt andre Carl Locher, Viggo Johansen og de mere perifere skagensmalere, Julius Paulsen og Christian Blache.  Under et af Carlsens ophold på Skagen, malede Michael Ancher et portræt af ham til spisesalen på Brøndums Hotel. Spisesalens interiør og malerier blev overflyttet til Skagens Museum i 1946, hvor rummet i dag stadig kan opleves. Uheldigvis var der ikke plads til alle malerierne efter flytningen, hvorfor de resterende malerier blev hængende på hotellet. Det blev skæbnesvangert. Portrættet af Emil Carlsen gik til, sammen med en stor del af hotellet, ved to brande i 1950´erne.

På Skagen malede Emil Carlsen overvejende billeder af havet, klitterne og stranden. Hans allerbedste marinebilleder stammer fra opholdene på Skagen. Derhjemme i USA, kunne han ikke få den samme kvalitet ud af sine havbilleder, men det kunne han i høj grad på Skagen, takket være det særlige lys. Et af de motiver han var mest fascineret af, var de to haves sammenstød på Grenen (fig. 49). En fascination han i øvrigt delte med Holger Drachmann, der malede motivet igen og igen.

Flere af Carlsens malerier fra Skagen minder utroligt meget om Julius Paulsens. Det vidner om særligt malerisk slægtskab i forhold til at skildre naturen. De var begge optaget af at male havet om natten og var begge dygtige til at indfange sjælen i de sene timer.  Enkelte gange malede Carlsen også motiver fra andre steder i Danmark. Der kendes eksempelvis et fremragende maleri med motiv fra Vejle Havn fra 1912 (fig.41).  Når Carlsen var i Danmark, ankom han som regel sidst på foråret og blev sommeren over. Når vejret blev for trist, tog han enten videre sydpå, til eksempelvis Rom eller Venedig, eller tog tilbage til New York for at omsætte studiebillederne fra Danmark til færdige malerier. En enkelt gang besøgte han Dansk Vestindien på vejen hjem til USA. Det vides, at han også har været i Norge og i London flere gange og en enkelt gang i Istanbul.

Det har desværre været umuligt at lave en fyldig beskrivelse af Carlsens mange ophold i Danmark, da der foreligger meget lidt materiale fra den side af hans liv. Det vides dog, at han var i Danmark følgende år: 1877, 1890, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1917, 1918, 1919 og 1925, sandsynligvis flere gange.

Læreren Emil Carlsen

– Skønheden findes overalt, selv i den mest ydmyge ting. Men det er et krav til kunstneren syn, at finde skønheden og kunstnerens evne til at gengive skønheden på hans lærred”(Emil Carlsen)

Undervisningen af unge kunstnere stod Emil Carlsens hjerte nær. Gennem hele livet havde han adskillige studerende. Stillingen som lærer på Philadelphia Academy of Fine arts havde han helt frem til 1918. Derefter fortsatte han med at undervise som gæstelærer på forskellige kunstskoler og universiteter samtidig med, at han underviste privatelever. Han havde svært ved at sige nej til de håbefulde unge mennesker, der søgte vejledning hos ham.
Så sent som i 1930 havde han eksempelvis malerinden, Helen Keep som elev. Hun sendte ham en række af sine akvareller, hvorefter Carlsen gav hende kritik på hendes arbejder via brev. Den korrespondance er bevaret. Brevvekslingen vidner om en dygtig og sympatisk lærer, der ikke er helt glad for at kritisere, men alligevel får sin mening frem ved hjælp af gode råd og forslag. I et af brevene skrev han for eksempel:

”De allerbedste interiør-malerier af Vermeer, Chardin og Hammershøi, har typisk en figur eller to som virkemiddel. Et stilleben bør ikke have liv i sig, det er heller ikke nødvendigt at have liv i et landskab, men et interiør mener jeg har brug for liv i en eller anden form, en hund eller en kat kan gøre det. Det er bare min mening, det kan godt være, at jeg tager fejl. Dine billeder har kvalitet, din farve er dyb og mættet – men oliemaling på et på et velpræpareret lærred vil bringe dit arbejde videre. Deres hengivne, Emil Carlsen”

Samme år skrev Carlsen til hans tidligere elev, Claude Buck, der havde skrevet til ham med et ønske om vejledning til at frembringe de fine baggrunde i stilleben-maleriet, som hans gamle lærer var eksponent for. Carlsen skrev følgende tilbage:

”Jeg vedlægger den allerbedste opskrift på præparation af lærreder. Det er den ældste og bedste italienske metode og fuldstændig bestandig og solid. Når du bruger den præcis som i opskriften er den absorberende, hvis man putter en smule for lidt zink-hvid i, krakelerer det måske, men det er værd at tage knubsene. Den holder farven fantastisk, og hvis du har en del tegning at lave på billedet, kan du lægge det ind med tempera eller vandfarve. Hvis du ikke kan skaffe kasein eller zink i en god kvalitet i Chicago, så må du lige sige til, så skal jeg nok sende dig en kassefuld”.

Det ovenstående vidner om en meget sympatisk og hjælpsom lærer, der ikke er ked af at give de råd videre, som han selv har brugt et helt liv på at tilegne sig.  Adskillige breve fra tidligere studerende og kolleger hyldede ham da også for hans store pædagogiske sans og dygtige undervisning.  John Andrew Myers, undervisningsleder på Pennsylvania Avademy of Fine Arts skrev i et brev fra 1915 følgende til Carlsen: ”Du er en inspirationskilde for de studerende og en sand lærer af natur.” I John Steeles store portræt af Carlsen fra 1927 i International Studio får han følgende karakteristik med på vejen:

”Praktisk talt hele sit liv har Emil Carlsen været kunstlærer. Alligevel ved afslutningen af denne lange karriere pointerer han, at hele håndværket, hele teknikken, alle evnerne som eleverne måtte tilegne sig på kunstskolerne, er værdiløse, hvis ikke vedkommende har sit eget medfødte syn på tingene, sin egen vision og noget at sige med sin kunst… 74-år gammel er Emil Carlsen forblevet langt mere tolerant i sit syn på alle kunstnere, end mange af vores yngre mænd. Måske fordi han har søgt hans fred og glæde i hans arbejde, fordi han aldrig skingert har krævet anerkendelse, har han fået en ganske særlig plads i den amerikanske kunst.”

Carlsens Kunst

– Når jeg står overfor et af Emil Carlsens billeder, går det op for mig, at sproget kan ikke gengive følelsen af så absolut visuel nydelse. (D. Phillips, 1917)

Emil Carlsen regnes i dag som en af de amerikanske impressionister i staternes kunstlitteratur. Primært på grund af hans holdning til lys og reflekser i marine- og landskabsmalerierne, men også på grund af sit venskab med Childe Hassam, William Merritt Chase, Julian Alden Weir mfl. Herhjemme vil man nok kalde ham en impressionistisk-symbolistisk maler med en udtalt fascination for genstandenes og naturens enkle skønhed. Carlsen gik ned i sjælens dybder og frembragte ved hjælp af gammelt porcelæn, nøgne træer og lyriske landskabsbilleder en ganske særlig stemning. Et udtryk for en åndelig stræben mod det perfekte og den ophøjede balance i tilværelsen. Den filosofi bag kunsten er fraværende i de tidligste af hans billeder, der blot var landskaber eller opstillinger uden noget andet indhold end det rent naturalistiske. Men i løbet af 1890´erne udviklede han det udtryk, der blev kendetegnende for hans kunstneriske produktion.

Den danske forfatter Johannes Jørgensen definerede på et tidspunkt symbolismen, som han selv havde været med til at promovere gennem tidsskriftet ”Tårnet”. Det er svært at finde en mere rammende beskrivelse af Emil Carlsens kunstneriske filosofi end med netop den definition af en symbolistisk kunstner:
”Han føler sin sjæls sammenhæng med naturens sjæl og aner bag tingenes tilsyneladende ligegyldighed en hjemlig verden, hvori hans ånd har evig indfødsret. Den sande kunstner er derfor nødvendigvis symbolist. Hans sjæl genkender bag de timelige ting den evighed, hvoraf hans sjæl er udsprungen.”
Noget nær den samme indstilling til kunsten havde den britisk-amerikanske maler James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), der i 1885 sagde følgende:

”Naturen rummer de elementer i farve og form, som indgår i alle billeder, ligesom klaveret rummer alle de noder, som musikken komponeres efter. Men kunstneren er født til nøjagtigt at plukke, vælge og gruppere de elementer, så resultatet bliver smukt – ligesom musikeren samler sine toner og former dem i akkorder, således at de kan bringe den skønneste harmoni ud af kaos”.

Det er ikke utænkeligt, at Carlsen har ladet sig inspirere af ham. Der er i hvert fald flere af hans billeder, der ligner Whistlers og deres indgangsvinkler til kunsten var stort set de samme.  Carlsen var en blændende tekniker og meget grundig, nærmest videnskabelig i sit arbejde.  Noget af det, der gør Carlsens kunst til noget særligt, er hans grundige arbejde med at forberede lærrederne inden de forskellige motiver blev påført. Han skabte nærmest abstrakte baggrunde for sine malerier, ved at bruge alternative teknikker. Blandt andet var han særligt optaget af at bruge tempera sammen med oliefarver, lag på lag, adskilt af fernis for at opnå den helt rigtige stemning og toning. Det var også noget, der blev sat stor pris på i hans samtid:

”Der findes ikke nogen bedre kemiker til at blande farver, der findes ingen bedre tekniker til at forbehandle lærreder end ham. Engang gjorde Carlsen seks lærreder klar til Weir. Han hængte dem direkte op på væggen og sagde: ”Gamle Carlsen, de var for smukke til at male på”. Der findes ingen bedre tegner til at se hvordan tingene virkelig er og frembringer ånden med farver foran beskueren på hans egen forunderlige facon med et raffinement, som overrasker med dens enkelthed. De næsten navneløse farver i Carlsens skovinteriører udtrykker en forunderlig harmoni i en ubestemt ensomhed” skrev Newlin Price i 1922.

Det var ikke kun indenfor maleriet, at Carlsen udfoldede sig. Han var en meget ivrig tegner. Altid havde han sin studieblok med sig. Efter fotografiet vandt indpas, begyndte han at tage billeder som han af og til brugte som forlæg til hans malerier (fig.14).  Enkelte gange prøvede kan kræfter med skulptur og grafik, men det fangede aldrig helt hans interesse. Hans eneste forsøg med grafikken var en serie på seks træsnit med nøgne træer, landskaber og en enkelt opstilling (fig. 15). Indenfor skulpturen kendes kun ét eksempel på Carlsens kreationer i den retning, nemlig en buste forestillende ham selv (fig. xx). Den viser, at han bestemt også havde talenter i den retning, men det var altså ikke noget han valgte at forfølge.  I 1906 oplevede Carlsen for første gang kritik i avisernes spalter. Det skete i New York Times i forbindelse med årets vinterudstilling. Carlsen var repræsenteret med nogle opstillinger som anmelderen ikke kunne lide, især syntes han ikke om billedet ”Studie i Gråt” (fig.31):

”Måske har han dyrket landskabsmaleriet for meget, så hans håndelag nu svigter. I hvert fald hverken i de livlige penselsstrøg eller i kompositionen, yder opstillingen retfærdighed til hans evner… klædet er ikke godt malet, potten, kanderne og skålen er matte, hele lærredet er tomt og mangler glans”.

Det virker som en underlig kritik, da billedet er helt klassisk i forhold til det åndssymbolistiske indhold, som Carlsen havde et ønske om at udtrykke med sine billeder. Formålet med hans kunst havde de fleste kunstskribenter i begyndelsen af det tyvende århundrede dog forstået. Deriblandt kunsthistorikeren John Steele, der i tidsskriftet International Studio i 1927 skriver:

”Med følelsen af at blive budt velkommen og beroliget kan vi søge tilflugt i det kølige fristed/tilflugtssted i Emil Carlsens kunst. I kontrast til den hede krigeriskhed, der er i megen nutidig amerikansk kunst, kan vi her opleve en tydelig sænkning af temperaturen. Der er intet destruktivt, intet dramatisk, end ikke noget dynamisk i disse landskaber”.

Det med den manglende dynamik er nu ikke helt korrekt. I flere af hans billeder er der masser af saft og kraft. Blandt andet i nogle næsten ekspressive havbilleder (fig. 34 og 35). Hvis man tolker naturen som en allegori på kunstnerens sjæl, må Carlsen ikke have været helt uden temperament.

Stilleben

Carlsen begyndte for alvor at male opstillinger efter at have stiftet bekendtskab med Chardins kunst på sit lange ophold i Paris i midten af 1880´erne.
Jean-Baptiste Chardin (1699-1779) var en fransk maler, der blandt andet malede opstillinger med et enkelt snit. Som regel med køkkenredskaber, fisk og vildt. Carlsen var meget fascineret af hans udtryk, og var især i slutningen af 1800-tallet ret inspireret af ham, hvilket tydeligt ses i den tidlige del af Carlsens stilleben-produktion (blandt andet fig. 18). Hos Chardin var det især tingenes balance i billedet og deres evne til at danne forskellige mønstre og linjer i kompositionen, der betød noget. Med tiden gik Carlsen mere og mere væk fra den vinkel og arbejdede, som tidligere nævnt, mere med at skabe stemninger og åndelige udtryk med sine billeder. Han blev også mere og mere fokuseret på den enkelte krukke eller skåls skønhed og ikke mindst samspillet med de fintstemte baggrunde i billederne.

Genstandene har en mere mystisk betydning for Carlsen; de fryder hans ydre øje, som de ville gøre hos enhver anden maler, men Carlsen har også et indre øje, en evne til at se alt det, som andre ikke ser – en rytme og musik og poesi, en renhed og ophøjethed og sublimitet, der gør hans stilleben opstillinger klassiske.”, skrev kunsthistorikeren A.E. Bye i Princeston University Press i 1921.

I samtiden var det især hans opstillinger, der fik anmelderne til at strø om sig med roser:

Emil Carlsen er uden tvivl den mest fuldendte mester indenfor stilleben-maleriet i Amerika…Når man ser på en af hans opstillinger falder man ind i den samme eftertænksomme stemning som når man ser på en Perugino – nogle gange føler man den samme følelse af mystik, som når man står foran en Leonardo”, skriver A. E. Bye endvidere.

Det er også den type billeder, der i dag er mest efterspurgt hos gallerierne og auktionerne. Emil Carlsens hidtidige auktionsrekord blev sat hos Christie´s i New York, hvor en samler i maj 1990 bød 650.000 dollars for billedet ”Løg og Brun Kande, 1894”, på det tidspunkt svarende til godt 4,1 millioner danske kroner.

Ikke alene havde Carlsen et unikt talent for at komponere et billede og frembringe præcis det ønskede udtryk, men var som tidligere nævnt også en ypperlig tekniker. Mange prøvede på at efterligne hans teknik og evne til at blande farver. At han kunne noget særligt på den front, kommer til udtryk i et brev fra sønnen Dines til Helen Keep, der var elev af Carlsen:

”Jeg husker flere af fars opstillinger… hvis du spørger mig om hvordan han frembragte de afstemte gråtoner, ville jeg ønske, at jeg vidste det! Og jeg har ellers set hvert eneste fase af alt hans arbejde i 30 år.”

Med tiden opbyggede Emil Carlsen en samling af antikviteter som han brugte i sine billeder. På maleren William M. Chases dødsboauktion i 1912 købte han eksempelvis en lang række forskellige orientalske antikviteter.  Efterhånden kom de fine gamle genstande til at dominere hans motivverden på bekostning af vildt, fisk, blomster og frugt.  Det forfinede udtryk blev stærkere som Carlsen blev ældre. Formsproget i billederne blev også mere abstrakt. Samtidig blev alt levende i billederne afløst af døde genstande: Fra starten af karrieren var det friske blomster, der blev afløst af frugt for senere af blive afløst af døde blade og visne blomster.  I opstillingerne ses over tid også en klar udvikling fra tendensen til horror vacui i de tidlige billeder, til det modsatte, hvor Carlsen bestemt ikke er bange for tomme flader i billederne. Tværtimod, han bruger tomheden som et bevidst virkemiddel i sine dristige kompositioner. Det er karakteristisk for især opstillingerne fra 1910-1925. (eksempelvis fig.47 og 51)

Landskaberne

Carlsen startede sin kunstneriske karriere ved marinemaleriet. Det var en genre han dyrkede hele livet, men med tiden kom naturskildringerne også til at omfatte landskaber og ikke mindst skovinteriører.  Havet prægede fra barnsben Carlsen dybt. Lysets reflekser, havets mange farver, de uforudsigelige linjer, samspillet med skyerne og bølgernes brydning. Han følte en særlig glæde og en indre ro hver gang han var i nærheden af havet. Den stemning formidlede han videre med sine marinemalerier, som han ofte udførte på meget store lærreder. I de tidlige marinemotiver spores især påvirkning fra Carl Locher og Christian Blache, mens de senere billeders udtryk ligger meget tæt på en del af Julius Paulsens produktion.

I begyndelsen af karrieren var der tit skibe og andet liv i Carlsens mariner, men de elementer blev med tiden hovedsageligt fravalgt til fordel for havets rene udtryk.  I flere af de sene billeder fra Danmark og Italien var der dog af og til et skib i baggrunden, en jolle på stranden eller et andet menneskeligt element, men der havde disse elementer fået et mere stemningsskabende formål i maleriet og udtrykte en symbiose mellem mennesket og naturen.

Det var mens han var i Paris, at han rigtigt begyndte at beskæftige sig med den deciderede landskabskunst. Det var især de franske friluftsmalere, der inspirerede. Efter en række eksperimenter på området, fandt han i genren sit eget udtryk, farvevalg og motivkreds.  Ligesom man aner en del Vilhelm Hammershøi i opstillingerne, gør man det bestemt også i en række af Carlsens landskabsbilleder. Træernes stræben mod himmelen, det fine farvebrug, det diffuse lys og brugen af få farver, som også Hammershøis bror Svend var eksponent for.

”Han har bevidst søgt efter at forvandle naturens elementer til en poetisk harmoni af farve og form. I kraft af hans mesterlige brug af en begrænset farvepalette og udelukkelsen af alle uharmoniske toner lykkes Carlsen med at skabe et landskabsmaleri, som frister en til at bruge musikalske vendinger, når man prøver på at beskrive det … Endeligt bliver det tydeligt, at denne kunstner fundamentalt er en digter. Han er ikke så meget maler af træer og skyer og de diffuse skovinteriører, bølger, klipper som han er maler af de stemninger i disse naturobjekter, der inspirerer hans sjæl”, skrev John Steele i 1927.

I Carlsens landskabsbilleder sporedes en klar ændring i malemåden, efterhånden som man kom op i det 20. århundrede. Carlsen begyndte at eksperimentere mere og mere med teknikken.

”Gradvist udviklede Carlsen en form for overflade på sine billeder, der er iøjnefaldende karakteristik for hans senere arbejder. Overfladen, som han bygger op og maler så omhyggeligt, for blot at skrabe malingen af og male igen og gentage dette igen og igen for at opnå en ganske særlig rig og mættet tekstur på lærredet”, skriver Newlin Price ganske rammende i sin store artikel fra 1922.

Eksempler på den nye malemåde ses blandt andet i billederne fig.54, 58 og 59, hvor han udover det rent tekniske også i højere grad eliminerede alle unødvendige elementer i billederne.  Det var også med til at imponere kritikerne og overbeviste mange om, at selvom han var uimodtagelig overfor de nye strømninger i malerkunsten, var han stadig en moderne maler både hvad angik teknik og indhold. Blot på en anden måde end modernisterne i den amerikanske malerkunst:

”Det virker altid på mig som om han prøver på at finde en formel symbolistisk udtryksmåde for de tanker naturen frembringer. Af og til en underlig hypnotisk påvirkning. Det virker på mig som om den fremherskende kvalitet i Emil Calsens natursyn er en form for passiv kinesisk ekstase, som ånden fra de antikke sung-landskaber.”, skrev kunstkritikeren Duncan Phillips i International Studio i 1917.

Også John Steele var en meget begejstret fortaler for kvaliteten i Carlsens senere landskaber:

Lyrisk, mener jeg, er et mere passende udtryk end dekorativ til at beskrive Carlsens brug af genstandene i det fri. Disse landskaber er komponeret på den samme måde som musik – musik eller lyrisk digtning. I de charmerende harmonier i ”skov-katedraler”, af unge bøgetræer der gennem bladene filtrerer det slørede sollys, bliver man gradvist bevidst om, at her er intet forsøg på at være litterær eller naturalistisk, men en bevidst forvandling af ting, fuldstænding eliminering af andre, indførelsen af en afgrænset selv-pålagt farveskala. Alt hen imod det endelige, der udtrykker den indre digtning i kunstnerens sjæl”, skrev han i 1927.

Efter hans død

Efter hans død var der fortsat meget fokus på Emil Carlsens produktion. Der blev holdt adskillige retrospektive udstillinger med hans værker. Ved disse udstillinger blev det tydeligt hvor stor en spændvidde og variation, der var i hans kunst.

Ved Carlsens mindeord i New York Times skrev Elisabeth Luther Cary blandt andet:

”Han er nok den mest overbevisende af alle ”internationalisterne”… Han var en stor maler. Gennem hans konsekvente troskab til underdrivelsens kraftfulde magter, gennem hans modstand mod alle billige metoder… han var unik blandt de samtidige i hans opmærksomhed på hvert skridt i hans arbejde fra begyndelsen til slutningen”.

Få år efter hans død vandt hans indsats i den amerikanske kunst yderligere anseelse:

”Skønheden i Carlsens arbejder lader til at vokse med tiden. Ligesom Vilhelm Hammershøi, den danske maler fra det 19. århundrede, med hvem han kunstnerisk lader til at have meget tilfælles, kunne Emil Carlsen producere vidunderlige resultater med fåmælte, sarte farver som grå og kølig sølvgrå og med delikat hvid. Og varme gennem de lavstemte jordbrune farver. Den stille magi i hans arbejde er uforglemmeligt eksemplificeret ved flere af hans opstillinger”, skrev New York Times i 1935 i forbindelse med omtalen af en stor retrospektiv udstilling hos Macbeth Gallery.

Gennem årene blev der afholdt den ene udstilling efter den anden med Carlsens værker. Mange museer indkøbte hans værker til deres samlinger og hos de private samlere forblev han i høj kurs, hvilket var og er tydeligt både hos gallerierne og på auktionerne. Carlsen gik på ingen måde i glemmebogen efter sin død.  Bagerst i denne bog er der en liste over Carlsens store separatudstillinger, ligesom der er en liste over mange af de største museer, hvor han er repræsenteret.

Som tiden gik, blev Carlsens kunst også tolket med nutidens briller:

”Carlsen demonstrerer, indenfor en omhyggelig defineret verden, en eklekticisme benyttet til udforskning af en personlig farveholning. Følsomheden kommer tydeligst til udtryk når kunstneren arbejder i et simplificeret kompositionsmæssigt format. Det dukker frem i midten af hans karriere, da impressionismen havde skubbet ham i retning af landskabsbilleder. Filosofisk og følelsesmæssigt er malerierne konservative, men formelt udforsker Carlsen farven på en måde der knytter ham til andre kunstnere i det 20. århundrede, især de lyriske abstraktioner fra 50´erne. Indenfor den akademiske tradition præsenterer hans bedste malerier et personligt lyrisk standpunkt, som udtrykker traditionelle værdier af skønhed og harmoni på en næsten abstrakt måde”, skrev kunsthistorikeren Susan Platt Carmalt i forordet til en stor udstilling i 1978.

Så sent som i 1999 blev der afholdt en fantastisk udstilling udelukkende med Carlsens opstillinger. Den havde overskriften: ”Quiet Magic – The still Life paintings of Emil Carlsen”. Der blev samtidig udgivet en flot bog med samme navn, skrevet af den anerkendte amerikanske kunsthistoriker Ulrich W. Hiesinger. Udstillingen fandt sted hos den fashionable kunsthandler Vance Jordan Fine Arts på Madison Avenue i New York. Udstillingen blev en stor succes og bogoplaget blev revet væk og er i dag umulig at opdrive antikvarisk.

I øjeblikket er der desuden ved at blive udarbejdet det hidtil største værk om Emil Carlsen hos organisationen ”Classical Realist” med Bill Indursky som forfatter. I skrivende stund bærer den titlen: Emil Carlsen: The Complete Known Works. Den forventes at komme på gaden i 2009 eller 2010 og vil indeholde en samlet fortegnelse over hans produktion.  Med andre ord er der ikke noget der tyder på, at Carlsens kunst fremover kommer til at friste en tilværelse i glemslens mørke.

De øvrige danske malere

Udover Lauritz Holst, der var Carlsens arbejdsgiver i de første år i USA, har der været en række danske kunstnere, der har prøvet lykken på den anden side af Atlanten. Emil Carlsen var uden tvivl den danske kunstner, der opnåede størst succes i det forjættede land. Men der var en del, der klarede sig udmærket.
Ikke mindst Olaf Wieghorst. Han var født i Viborg i 1899. Han havde et hestenummer i Cirkus Schumann, inden han emigrerede til USA som 19-årig. Dér arbejdede han på flere gårde, blandt andet i New Mexico, inden han fik en karriere som ridende politibetjent. Sideløbende med arbejdet i uniform, tegnede og malede han en del og solgte illustrationer til forskellige blade. I 1944 trak han sig tilbage fra politiet, flyttede sammen med sin familie ud på landet og helligede sig sin kunst og sin store interesse for heste.  Wieghorst fandt sine motiver i den vilde vesten. Næsten alle hans billeder kredser omkring samme motivverden som den amerikanske maler Frederick Remington (1861-1909). Altså ridende cowboys, kavaleriet på arbejde og mange virkelig fine skildringer fra indianerreservaterne, som Wieghorst fik mulighed for at rejse i før verden gik af lave.  Lynhurtigt fik Olaf Wieghorst skabt sig et navn i staterne. Der blev holdt adskillige udstillinger med hans værker, også på de store museer, og hans billeder blev revet væk.  Mange prominente amerikanere har gennem tiden samlet på Wieghorsts billeder. Blandt andre præsidenterne: Ronald Reagan, Gerrald Ford, Richard Nixon og Dweight Eisenhower og skuespillerne: Roy Rogers, Bing Crosby, John Wayne, Burt Reynolds og Clint Eastwood.  Både på auktionerne og på det private marked har Wieghorsts billeder opnået høje summer. Det siges, at der på det private marked er blevet handlet et af hans oliemalerier til 1 million dollars.  Olaf Wieghorst døde i 1988 og har i dag sit eget museum i El Cajon i Californien.

Antonio Jacobsen tog året før Emil Carlsen til USA. Antonio Nicolo Gasparo Jacobsen, der var hans fulde navn, blev født i 1850 ud af en familie af violinbyggere. Han ville dog hellere være kunstmaler og blev optaget på kunstakademiet i 1869. Da han blev indkaldt til hæren i 1871, valgte han at stikke af med Amerika-båden. Han ankom til New York og fik arbejde ved et pengeskabsfirma, hvor han skulle dekorere lågerne på skabene. Sideløbende begyndte han at male skibsportrætter fra byens havn. Dem solgte han til skibenes kaptajner og besætningsmedlemmer. Efterhånden fik han en del større bestillingsarbejder, blandt andet af flere store rederier, der bestilte ham til at male hele deres flåde. Jacobsen var enormt produktiv. Det menes, at han udførte over 6.000 skibsportrætter, inden hans død i 1921. I dag er Jacobsen anerkendt som en af de bedste skibsportrætmalere i verden og er repræsenteret på adskillige museer med sine detaljerige billeder.

Ferdinand Richard havde det meste af sin kunstneriske karriere i Danmark og valgte først i en relativ sen alder at rykke teltpælene op og flytte til USA. Han blev født i 1819 og var først i tømrerlære, inden han kom på kunstakademiet. Der vandt han både den store og den lille sølvmedalje og fik hurtigt skabt sig et navn som landskabs- og arkitekturmaler. Han udstillede adskillige gange på Charlottenborg og solgte blandt andet malerier til kongehuset. I dag er Ferdinand Richard mest kendt for sine prospekter af danske herregårde. Han nåede også at rejse en del i Italien og Nordamerika, inden han sammen med sin familie emigrerede til San Francisco i 1873. Emigrationen til USA skyldtes, at Richard under et længerevarende ophold i USA i 50´erne havde skabt sig et navn derovre, og blandt andet var blevet bestilt af rigmanden Vanderbilt til at male billeder fra Niagara Falls. Også efter emigrationen fortsatte hans popularitet, og han blev yderst velhavende. Han er i dag repræsenteret i adskillige fine museer og samlinger, blandt andet i the White House, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco og the Oakland Museum of California. Han døde 31. oktober 1895.

Ernest Ludwig Ipsen (1869 – 1951) var endnu en af de danske udvandrere, der fik succes. Han blev en meget benyttet portrætmaler og hans billeder findes i dag på en række forskellige museer i USA.  Men langt de fleste af de udvandrende danske kunstmalere klarede sig knap så godt. Mange måtte opgive maleriet og blive løsarbejdere, nogle fik sparet sammen til en returbillet tilbage til Danmark, mens andre gik til i fattigdom.

 

Appendix:

Kronologi:
1848 – 1865: Søren Emil Carlsen bliver født i København d. 19 oktober. Har sin skolegang på
Den Westenske Institution.

1866 –1869: Arkitektstudier på Kunstakademiet i København. Modtager i 1869 Neuhausens Præmie for en opmåling og tegning af Christian den 3´s monument i Roskilde Domkirke.

1870: Carlsen modtager undervisning hos Christian Blache og Viggo Johansen.

1871 – 1872: I militæret. 15. og 18. bataljon i henholdsvis København og Helsingør (Kronborg).

1872: Emmigrerer til Amerika og får arbejde på en tegnestue i Chicago.

1873: Arbejder hos den danske marinemaler Laurits Holst og overtager senere hans atelier.

1874: Bliver lærer på Chicago Art Institute.

1875: Rejser til Danmark og videre til Paris for at studere malerkunst, hvor han bliver i et halvt år, inden han flytter til New York.

1876: Flytter til Boston.

1877: Udstiller for første gang på Boston Art Club med billederne ”Tangvognen” og ”Ude på Kattegat.” To billeder malet på en rejse til Danmark. Carlsen er hjemme i Danmark adskillige somre i særdeleshed efter år 1900 er han hjemme næsten hvert år.

1879: Carlsen i gæld til auktionshus og bliver nødt til at tage arbejde som arkitekt.

1881-1883: Har igen fået gang i karrieren som maler. Åbner eget atelier og udstiller blandt andet billedet ”Pæoner” på Pensylvania Academy.

1884-1886: Rejser til Paris og maler blomsterbilleder på kommission for amerikanske kunsthandlere. Men maler også for sin egen skyld og udstiller blandt andet på Salonen i Paris i 1885, inden han vender hjem til Amerika.

1887-1890: Bliver leder af San Francisco Art School og senere på The Art Students League. Maler og udstiller selv en del.

1891: Flytter til New York. De næstre ti år flytter han meget omkring og er lærer på mange forskellige kunstskoler.

1896: Gifter sig med Luella May Ruby, dagen før sin fødselsdag.

1901: Sønnen Dines bliver født.

1904: Gennembrudsåret. Får guldmedalje på verdensudstillingen. Bliver valgt til Assosiate of the National Academy og opnår flere store priser. Fra det år og fremefter bliver Carlsen hædret med priser eller hædersbevisninger på alle store udstillinger.

1905: Bygger et landsted i Falls Village, Conneticut. Sommerhuset kommer sammen med deres store lejlighed på Manhattan til at danne rammen om familien Carlsens liv.

1909: Skriver to store artikler om Stilleben og brug af tempera til tidsskriftet Palette and Bench. Udstiller desuden på Bienalen i Venedig.

1911: Bliver tilknyttet det eksklusive Macbeth Gallery i New York, der kan sælge alt hvad Carlsen kan male.

1912 – 1931: Emil Carlsen lever rigtig godt af sin kunst og er på toppen af den amerikanske kunstscene. Han er med i adskillige kunstnersammenslutninger og sociale klubber. Han underviser stadig for sin fornøjelses skyld og rejser en hel del.

1932: Dør i sit hjem 83 år gammel.

 

Emils Museer:
Adddison Gallery of American Art
Albright Art Gallery
Brigham Young University Art Gallery
Brooklyn Institute Museum
Bruce Museum
Butler Art Institute
California Historical Society
Chicago Art Institute
Cleveland Museum of Art
Columbus Museum
Corcoran Gallery of Art
Dallas Museum of Fine Arts
DAAP Galleries, University of Cincinnatti
Dayton Art Institute.
Detroit Institute of Art
Elgin Academy
Evansville Museum of Art
Farnsworth Art Museum
Figge Art Museum
Florence Griswold Museum
Georgia Museum of Art
Heckscher Museum
Hermitage Foundation Museum
Houston Museum of Fine Arts
Huntington Museum of Art
IBM Gallery of Art and Science.
Indianapolis Museum of Art
Joselyn Art Museum
Københavns Bymuseum.
Los Angeles County Museum
Metropolitan Art Museum
Mills College Art Museum
Mineapolis Institute of Art
Muskegon Museum of Art
Nashville Panthenon
National Cathedral
National Collection of Fine Arts
National Portrait Gallery
New Britain Museum of Amercan Art
North Carolina Museum of Art
Norton Gallery of Art
Oakland Museum
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Princeton University Art Museum
Rhode Island School of Design
Saint Louis Art Museum
San Diego Museum of Art
Santa Barbara Museum of Art.
Seattle Art Museum
Smithsonian Art Museum
Toledo Museum of Art
Toronto Art Gallery
Tweed Museum
Wadsworth Atheneum
Worchester Art Museum
M.fl.

 

Større Retrospektive seperatudstillinger:
1935 – Macbeth Gallery, New York.
1958 – Grand Central Galleries(25)
1968 – Grand Central Galleries
1973 – Texas Museum of Art.
1975 – Wortsman Rowe Galleries, San Fransisco
1975 – Rubicon Gallery, Californien
1975 – El Paso Museum of Art
1975 – Robert Rice Gallery, New York
1975 – Coe Kerr Gallery, New York
1975 – The Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego
1975 – The Norton Gallery of Art, West Palm Beach.
1977 – Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art
1978 – Robert Rice Gallery
1999 – Vance Jordan Fine Arts, New York.

 

Medlem af følgende sammenslutninger:
Paint and Clay Club, Boston.
St. Botolph Club, Boston.
Bohemian Club, San Fransisco.
Society of American Artists.
National Academy of Design (Assosiate 1904, Academian 1906).
Academican, National Institute of Arts and Letters.
Lotos Club.
Salmagundi Club.
Century Association. American Federation of Arts.
Art Club of Philidelphia.
Fellowship of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

 

Litteraturliste:
Arthur Bye: Pots and Pans, Princeton University Press, 1921.
Doreen Burke: American Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1980.
Emil Carlsen: On Still-Life Painting, Palette and Bench, 1908.
Emil Carlsen: On Tempera, Palette and Bench, 1909.
Emil Carlsen: Weir the Painter i Julian Alden Weir, Phillips, 1922.
Susan Platt Carmalt: Emil Carlsen, N.A., Robert Rice, 1978.
Elisabeth Luther Cary: Quietness and Slow Time, New York Times, jan. 1932.
Eliot Clark: Emil Carlsen, Scribners Magazine #44, 1919.
William Gerdts & Russell Burke: American Still-Life Painting, N.Y. 1971.
F. Hendriksen: Mennesker og oplevelser, eget forlag, 1932.
Ulrich W. Hiesinger: Quiet Magic – The Stil life paintings of Emil Carlsen, Vance Jordan, 1999.
Donelson Hoopes: The American Impressionists, Watson-Guptill, 1972.
Catherine Hoover: The Art of Emil Carlsen 1853-1932, San Francisco 1975.
Edan Milton Hughes: Artists in California 1786-1940, San Francisco, 1986.
Bill Indursky: Emil Carlsen: The Complete Known Works (manuskript og researchprojekt), Classical Realist, endnu ikke udgivet.
Samuel Isham: The History of American Painting, Macmillan, 1905.
Rita Evelyn Jackman: American Arts, Rand McNally, 1928.
Thomas Lederballe: I Julius Paulsen, Ordrupgaard, 2002.
Preben Juul Madsen: Kunst under Hammeren, Fogtdal, 1998.
Karl Madsen: Skagens Malere, Gyldendal, 1929.
Eugen Neuhaus: The Hist. and Ideals of American Art, Stanford, 1931
Eugen Neuhaus: The Galleries of the Exposition, Paul Eider, 1915.
Eugen Neuhaus: Painters, pictures and the People, Philopolis Press, 1918.
Barbara Novak: American Painting of the Nineteenth Century, Praeger, 1969.
Duncan Phillips: Emil Carlsen, International Studio #61, 1917.
Elizabeth Prelinger: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Watson-Guptill, 2000.
Newlin Price: Emil Carlsen, Painter, Teacher, International Studio #75, 1922.
Haavard Rastrup: To selvbiografiske breve fra Viggo Johansen, særtryk af tilskueren, 1936.
Alba Schwartz: Skagen Før og Nu, Gyldendal 1912 og 1913.
John Steele: The Lyricism of Emil Carlsen, International Studio #88, 1927
H. Slyngbom: Dansk Kunstnerleksikon, opr. 1944, Dansk Historisk Håndbogsforlag, 1988.
Knud Tophøj: Chr. Blache – Hirtshalsmaler i somrene 1902-1919. Lokalhistorisk Selskab, 1998.
Weilbach: Nyt Dansk Kunstnerleksikon, 1994
Ruth Westphal: Plein Air Painters of California, Irvine 1986.
Henrik Wivel: I Svend Hammershøi – en kunstner og hans tid, Skovgaard Museet, 2008.
Henrik Wivel: Ny Dansk Kunsthistorie. Bind 5, Symbolisme og impressionisme, Fogtdal, 1994.

Auktionskataloger fra Nelleman & Thomsen, Herholdt-Jensen, Sothebys, Christies, Bonhams, Phillips, Skinner, Butterfields.

Arkivalier fra Det Danske Udvandrerarkiv, Aalborg, Forsvarets Arkiver, Landsarkivet for Sjælland, Københavns Stadsarkiv, Skagen Lokalsamling.

Avisudklip, noter og artikler fra New York Times, New York Herold, chicago, boston og uidentificerede udklip fra perioden 1884-1935.

Breve, manus. og fotos, Archives of American Arts, Smithsonian Institution.

Privatsamlinger af breve, fotos og malerier

Diverse udstillingskataloger.

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TEXT TRANSLATION

Søren Emil Carlsen; The Skagen Painter from Manhattan

by Kim Lykke Jensen | Translated by Robyn Peterson, Director of Yellowstone Art Museum

Fig. 1. Emil Carlsen, in studio with objects and furnishings used in his still-life paintings, c.1925

Fig. 1. Emil Carlsen, in studio with objects and furnishings used in his still-life paintings, c.1925

Fig. 1 – Emil Carlsen in his studio in Manhattan. In the picture, many of the fine, old objects he used in his paintings can be seen. Ca. 1928.

Foreword

“Emil Carlsen’s recent death takes him from the circle of the finest and most accomplished painters in American art. He was born in Denmark, but lived most of his life in the U.S.; Denmark was nevertheless clearly in his blood, his vision, and in his methods,” wrote art critic Elisabeth Luther Cary in a long obituary in The New York Times at the time of the artist’s death in 1932.

But who was he, this great Danish painter by the name of Søren Emil Carlsen? If one turns one’s gaze to the literature about Danish art, one is none the wiser.  This is true in spite of the fact that Carlsen continues to be a prominent name in the U.S. and is represented by all of their larger museums. Hence, this book.

Carlsen grew up in an affluent Copenhagen home and trained as an architect at the art academy. When he was in his mid-twenties, a desire for adventure began to grow in him, and he emigrated to the U.S. After many troubles, he was lucky enough to emerge victorious on the American art scene.

Due to his success as a painter, he had the means to travel back to Denmark quite a few times during his life. When Carlsen was home in Denmark, he confined himself for the most part to the artists’ colony in Skagen.

Emil Carlsen painted in a number of different genres. Today he is best known for his large and very fine still lifes, but he also painted quite a few marine and landscape paintings. In addition, he produced portraits, interiors, and sculptures to a lesser degree. Especially in his landscapes, but also in some of the still lifes, there are clear references to Danish symbolism of a type that one sees in his compatriots Vilhelm Hammershøi and Julius Paulsen.

Emil Carlsen was far from being the only Danish painter to try his luck in the U.S. According to published resources, a bit of an exodus of Danish painters followed, and found success, on the other side of the Atlantic.

This book stems from a many articles in the contemporary American press, private letters, numerous archival items, and historic books about American painting.

It is not intended to be a heavy art historical work with profound interpretations, but should be taken more as an introduction to the artist’s life and works.

I extend great thanks to all those who have helped in bringing this book into being.  Thanks go to museums, archives, libraries, galleries, auction houses, private collectors, and not least to Preben Juul Madsen for reading the manuscript.

Kim Lykke Jensen, 2008

The Home in Denmark

Søren Emil Carlsen was born in Copenhagen on 19 October 1848 and christened a month later in the Helligånd [Holy Spirit] church as the son of druggist and grocer Carl Adolph Junius Carlsen and Ane Dorothea Raa. His parents were well into their thirties when he arrived as their firstborn. His childhood home was at Store Kjøbmagergade 47 [Great Merchants Street 47] (today, this is the corner of Købmagergade and Skindergade) in central Copenhagen, a stone’s throw from the Round Tower.

Carlsen’s father was an enterprising businessman, and his childhood home lacked for nothing. His mother stayed at home and had plenty of time for creative pursuits. Like so many other women in better circumstances, she was an avid flower painter. In the first half of the nineteenth century, she was one of many women who took instruction from the great flower painter I. L. Jensen (1800-1856). Emil admired his mother and appreciated her very much.

“She was a very accomplished woman. She was very small, never weighing more than 50 kilos [110 pounds],” related Emil Carlsen in an interview in the 1920s.

Emil Carlsen also had a brother who was seven years younger, Carl Carlsen. Emil was first schooled in business but as an 18-year-old, he got leave to take instruction to be an artist. He attended the art academy from 1874 to 1879 and became a quite competent painter. He painted, among other subjects, landscapes, still lifes, and genre scenes that occasionally were social-realist in content.

Emil Carlsen had his general education at The Western Institution at North Street, which was also called the Bohr Latin School because of a prominent schoolmaster.  The school was demolished in 1893 but before then it produced a string of prominent students, including Georg Brandes, Peter Faber, Viggo Stuckenberg, Holger Drachmann, and Emil Carlsen.

After his school years, he began to study architecture under J. A. Stillmann and was graduated from the Technical Institute. He frequented the art academy in Copenhagen from 1866 to 1869. [Academy dates here and earlier don’t align. This is, however, how they appear in the text.] In 1869, he was represented for the first and only time at the Charlottenborg [royal palace in Copenhagen] spring exhibition. He exhibited a painting and a drawing of the Christian III monument in the Roskilde cathedral, for which he took the Neuhausen Prize. In the interim, he moved from his home to a property at Little Kannike Lane 3, a few hundred meters from his childhood home.

As early as when he was attending the art academy, he was interested in painting and took instruction with the marine painter Christian Blache (1838-1920). Later he spent quite a bit of time with a distant relative of the same age, Viggo Johansen1-1935). The two of them painted together several times on the coast to North Zealand.

Carlsen’s oils from this period were unremarkably executed. He was markedly better

at drawing, which had been his strong suit at the art academy.

Very few paintings from Emil Carlsen’s hand are preserved from the period before he emigrated. One was sold by the Herholdt-Jensen auction house in June 2000.  It was a little marine painting done in 1870, which clearly reveals the shortcomings in Carlsen’s training as a painter (fig. 2). A similar marine painting was also sold in 1999 by the Nellemann and Thomsen auction house in Ålborg. A couple of Carlsen’s first paintings may also be found in Danish private collections.

Only a single work by Emil Carlsen is found in a Danish museum, namely a drawing of a view of Christianshavn, likewise from 1870. It’s held by the Copenhagen City Museum (fig. 3).

Emil Carlsen Coastal Scene with Ships, 1870

Emil Carlsen Coastal Scene with Ships, 1870

While Carlsen was at school in 1871, he felt more like a painter than an architect and stated his intention to pursue painting as a livelihood [essentially, “declared a major in painting”].

According to the defense ministry’s records, he was without physical shortcomings and measured 174 cm in height [5’ 8”]. Carlsen was declared suitable for the infantry. He satisfied his military obligation with the 18th battalion in Helsingør [a.k.a. Elsinore] and later with the 15th battalion in Copenhagen.

Directly after completing military service, he traveled to the U.S.

The First Years in the U.S., 1872-1884

Emil Carlsen arrived in New York in 1872. There is no entry for him in the Danish emigration archives. Therefore, he either bought a ticket to America from a foreign travel agent or hired on

Emil Carlsen : Coastal scene with ships, 1870.

Fig. 2 – Stretch of Coast with Ships, 1870. Oil on canvas. 24 x 36 cm. Private collection.

Emil Carlsen View from New Harbour (Nyhavns) Towards Copenhagen, 1870

Fig. 3 – View from Nyhavn’s Head toward Christianshavn, 1870. Drawing. 20 x 25 cm. Copenhagen City Museum.

with a ship’s crew. The former is more likely. According to his birth certificate from Helligånd parish, Carlsen was just 24 years old when he first set foot on American soil. It’s not clear why, but it appears that, upon arrival, the young Dane availed himself of the opportunity to describe himself as five years younger. In any case, he’s noted in American art historical literature as having been born the 19th of October 1853 and not the 19th of October 1848, which is accurate.

“I came to the States in 1872 and took the train on to Chicago to work for an architect. He paid me $20 a week. When I wanted to leave, he offered me double, but I left anyway. Then I opened a drawing studio, but it didn’t succeed. My partner ran off with all the money. He also sold a large painting that I had painted and kept the money. So, I went back to the architect I had previously worked for, but now he would pay me only $10 a week. I worked for him for a bit anyway. He knew that I needed the money,” related Emil Carlsen to his good friend, the art historian Frederic Newlin Price who, in 1922, transcribed a long interview with Emil Carlsen for the magazine International Studio. In this interview, Carlsen described the first years of his career.

After the disappointment of his time working as an architect, he came into contact with the Danish marine painter Laurits Bernhard Holst (1848-1934), who had himself immigrated to America a couple of years earlier: “The Danish painter Holst had seen a few of my sketches of marine subjects, which I had done in Denmark, and offered me $3 a day to work for him. I painted ships and figures and stretched canvases for him. He had plenty to do. I had a little sketch that I’d painted in Helsingør. This little picture was in his studio. One day, Holst sold the painting to a collector who had made a point of saying, ‘I feel really good about that sketch there.’ Holst said that it was a little painting that he had done sometime, and the collector bought the painting. Then I said to Holst that he had no right to sell my picture, and he said right away, ‘You’re right,’ and gave me $5 for it. He went back to Denmark and later became a well-known painter. Before he left, he said to me that I should keep the studio. It was in that way that I really came into my own as a painter,” explained Emil Carlsen in the interview.

Apart from Holst’s rather suspect morals, he seems to have been a beneficial acquaintance for the young Danish painter. In any event, Carlsen developed much during this first period in the U.S. His marine paintings, which fully followed the classic Danish painting tradition, began to be of much higher quality (fig. 4).  After Holst’s return home, it went less well for Carlsen. He was close to giving up painting when an offer came from an unexpected quarter: the sculptor Leonard

Emil Carlsen : Sailing ship near a rocky coast, ca.1877.

Fig. 4 – Marine, 1873. Oil on canvas. 80 x 112 cm. Private collection.

Wells Volk (1828-1895) was in need of a drawing instructor at the art school of the Chicago Art Institute. Carlsen took to it eagerly. He became the foremost instructor at the school and was well paid. At the same time, he had the opportunity to paint quite a bit on the side. However, he didn’t keep the job particularly long.

“The painter Lawrence Carmichael Earle (1845-1921), who had recently come home from Europe, advised me to go back to the other side of the Atlantic to study. I took that advice. It was in 1875. I went to Denmark, then on to Paris, where I studied until I ran out of money. It lasted six months, and then I went back to New York.”

In Denmark, before he went to Paris, he managed to execute a few pictures, among which was one of a fisherman and his son (fig. 5). In France, he took private instruction with some of the lesser painting schools and was a studious visitor at the city’s museums. From his time in Paris, a few landscapes are known (fig. 16) and several still lifes. He went back to the U.S. at the beginning of 1876 without a penny in his pocket, but he went as a much more accomplished painter.

“When I came back, I got a studio … In New York, I lived on 23rd Street in a boarding house. I took twelve cartoons to a dealer in the city who chose one out of the lot and said he might be able to use more. I got $2 and not a cent more, and they held on to all of the drawings. I had to send a message back home to Denmark to ask for some money. In 1876, I went to Boston.”

In Boston, Carlsen exhibited for the first time. This was in 1877; he was represented along with two other painters at the Boston Art Club. He showed two marine paintings entitled Out on the Kattegat and Seaweed Cart. But it was a difficult period for the young Dane. He had a hard time putting food on the table.  Nevertheless, he stuck with painting.

Emil Carlsen : Fisherman and boy, 1876.

Fig. 5 – Fisherman and Son, 1875. Drawing. 30 x 24 cm. Private collection..

In a letter from 1927, a former student of Carlsen’s wrote about a painting he had recently seen in a gallery for $700, and he described it to Carlsen. Carlsen wrote the following in return about the painting:

“At that time, I was more than happy if I just had money to buy something to eat. I painted pictures for $5 and said to people that they could come by in the afternoon and get their pictures (which they had ordered in the morning).”

In 1879, he ventured to hold an auction of his paintings at an auction house in Boston. Thirty paintings were for sale, but only seventeen sold and for low prices.  It wasn’t enough to cover the auction house’s costs. Carlsen was now in debt to the auction house. Therefore, he had to give up his studio. For the time being, he got a job as an engraver and technical draftsman, work that he really did not like.

Initially, he received a miserable salary, but with time, it became more lucrative.  After a couple of years, he had paid off his debt and managed to save a little. So, he resigned from the job and again got himself a little studio, where he began to teach and resume painting.

It was at this time that exhibition opportunities materialized. He was represented in an exhibition at the Boston Art Club in 1881, this time with a painting called Seaweed Collectors. The year after, he exhibited May Morning. In 1883, he exhibited a still life for the first time. The same year, the floral painting, Peonies, was included in the annual exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. It was also at this time that Emil Carlsen gave up using his first name Søren. Throughout the years in Boston, he experienced growing success both among critics and art buyers. In connection with an exhibition at the Boston Art Club in 1884, two of his still lifes were singled out as being among the exhibition’s best paintings.

Fig. 6. – Emil Carlsen in his Sunday best, ca. 1878.

Several well-known collectors became aware of Carlsen’s talents during this period, among whom was Thomas B. Clarke from New York. He bought a painting out of one of the exhibitions. It depicted a dead rooster, a copper dish, and some kitchen paraphernalia.

One day, a dealer by the name of T. J. Blakeslee came from New York to visit his studio. He and Carlsen reached an agreement whereby if Carlsen traveled to Paris to paint, Blakeslee would buy one painting from him each month. There was at the time much demand for foreign paintings and especially those from France. Carlsen was fascinated by Paris from his time there a few years earlier and was not difficult to convince. It was also no small matter that he could look forward to a fairly fixed income. His brother, Carl Carlsen, had also just been in Paris for a couple of years and had written to Emil about all the excitement that was characteristic of the time.  Emil Carlsen, therefore, took himself off to the city of cities once again.

Paris 1884-1886

His time in Paris lasted fully two years. During this period a number of American painters lived there, among whom were [Willard] Metcalf, [Harry Siddons] Mowbray, and [Samuel] Isham. Carlsen saw a bit of them but spent most of his time with the French painters. He also met several of the Danish painters who were in Paris in the mid-1880s, among others, Julius Paulsen and his old friend Viggo Johansen.

In Paris, Emil Carlsen painted primarily floral pictures, especially with yellow roses, because it was this type of subject matter that Blakeslee could most easily sell.  Carlsen subsequently developed relationships with other U.S. dealers who also took his florals. One senses that the manufacture of floral paintings would soon straitjacket him. They were very well executed but were virtually devoid of content and were not representative of his other work (fig. 7).

Emil Carlsen Still Life with Flowers (also called Roses), 1885

Fig. 7 – Still life with flowers, 1885. Oil on canvas. 99 x 135 cm. Private collection.

But when Carlsen wasn’t painting to order, he demonstrated a dazzling talent, which revealed strong influence from the most current trends in European painting. This is especially evident in a few landscapes from the period, among others, a painting from Moncour (fig. 8). Gradually, his color palette became lighter and lighter in contrast to the earlier work where dark colors had dominated. For his own sake, he also began to paint still lifes in Paris, many including fine Chinese porcelain, which later became his trademark. He also copied Old Master paintings that he admired in the museums, including the works of

Emil Carlsen Moncour, 1884

Fig. 8 – Moncour, 1885. Oil on canvas. 119 x 135 cm. DAAP Galleries, University of Cincinnati.

Chardin, Titian, and Vermeer. He also studied Renoir and Monet and adopted their spontaneity and freshness as his own.  But, it was no bed of roses to be in Paris. Purely economically, he was keeping it together, but not much more than that: “Carlsen tells many stories about that time  in Paris, close by the Louvre: how they were obliged to eat fruit that they really should have been painting, how they found themselves in debt buying the flowers they needed,” wrote Newlin Price in his article from 1922.

For the Salon in Paris in 1885, Emil Carlsen had the pleasure of being represented by a large painting entitled Woman Preparing Poultry. It was sold in an instant to an American collector and for a very good price, which made Carlsen feel like a wealthy man for a little while. It made him optimistic and bolstered the hope that he could paint more freely. But the dealer Blakeslee carried on with the demand for paintings of yellow roses. Carlsen ultimately became so tired of painting flowers that he terminated the contract and returned to New York.

Back to the U.S.A. – 1887-1900

The time in Paris had been enormously important for Carlsen’s development. It was there that he found his personal mode of expression as a painter. He began to express the stillness and melancholy in his own soul, which he rendered into fine still lifes and depictions of nature. Back in New York, he again secured a studio.

He both painted and sold many paintings. Gradually he had won a name for himself in the U.S. After having been home for a year, he was offered the opportunity to lead the San Francisco Art Association School. Carlsen moved to California.  As a teacher, he was popular with the students and cultivated a social life in several clubs, among them the well-known Bohemian Club. Carlsen was not satisfied with the work environment at the school, and became tired of not having enough time to paint. Therefore, he gave up the post after two years to teach at another art school in the city called the Art Students’ League. He had more time to paint and at the same time became a member of the artists’ association, the Society

of American Artists. During this period, he also began to paint portraits, most likely to supplement his income. He also undertook a decorating job for the wealthy William H. Crocker. In addition to painting pictures for Crocker’s house, he was to help create the design for the ceilings, walls, and the overall interior.

Carlsen exhibited in California several times, in the few exhibition venues that there were. But, he didn’t do so well with sales. Therefore, he decided to return to “The Big Apple.”  “I’m taking myself off to the place where people buy paintings and where there is the possibility of exhibiting them … I think that it’s unpleasant to be a pioneer in a place where rich men buy their pictures in Europe or over on the east coast, and those people who really would like to buy pictures locally can’t afford to,” he was quoted as saying in a local newspaper. At the end of 1891, he went back to New York.

In the following decades, he spent a great deal of his time teaching. He had both private pupils and taught at the National Academy of Design, the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, and at Columbia University. During the period, he moved around much and was registered at quite a few different addresses.  In 1892, he was represented in an exhibition at the Society of American Artists with a large still life, which “shows that Emil Carlsen has not lost his ability after exchanging San Francisco for the region along the Atlantic coast one more time,” wrote The New York Times. The artistic juices flowed again after his return home.  He painted quite a few high quality still lifes in the 1890s, in addition to a series of marine paintings.  He also experimented a bit. He executed among other things a number of flower paintings in a very light palette and with impressionistic brushwork. Carlsen also tried his hand at working in pastel and watercolor, but concluded that oil was the medium that fit his temperament and artistic goals. In the middle of the 1890s, he painted some works that deviated some from his other production, among which were the “punchbowl” (fig. 24). Here one sees the surroundings in very exacting terms…the attention-getting impression of meditative calm that otherwise is so characteristic of the better part of his work. It’s possible that Carlsen also realized this as his strength, as he turned back to simpler expressions.

In the course of the 1890s, Emil Carlsen became increasingly associated with the production of still lifes. In connection with the annual exhibition at the Society of American Artists in 1896, he is described as a still life painter in The New York Times, whose reporter was inordinately surprised to see Carlsen represented by a portrait of a young

woman (fig. 9). This young woman was not just anybody. Her name was Luella May Ruby and was markedly younger than the nearly 50-year-old Carlsen.  Nevertheless, they fell headlong in love with each other. At the end of the nineteenth century, Carlsen became fascinated by painting white objects, for example, ceramics, porcelain, garlic, and clothing. He was convinced that white objects created a calm, balance, and refined expression in pictures, an attitude he held in common with [fellow Dane] Vilhelm Hammershøi.

Fig. 9. Portrait of the artist’s wife, 1896. Oil on canvas. 51 x 36 cm. Private collection.

Private Life and Success 1900-1932

Emil Carlsen and Luella May Ruby were married in 1896, and their son Dines was born in 1901. In 1905, Carlsen built a summer house equipped with a large studio in the country town of Falls Village in Connecticut. The place was the foundation for a large share of the family’s life. It was here that he found the calm to paint his pictures. The family stayed at the country house whenever they had the opportunity. A great calm also prevailed at their large apartment at 43 East 59th Street in Manhattan, in spite of the pulsing city life on the other side of their windows:

“In Emil Carlsen’s quiet studio in New York City, there is an atmosphere of the old days. This impression is strengthened by interesting studies and canvases by his friend Alden Weir, a large unfinished picture by Chase, and other reminders from the great 1890s,” described art historian John Steele in 1927 in the magazine International Studio.

At the turn of the century, Emil Carlsen was finally fully developed as an artist. It happened simultaneously with his public recognition and the peace in his private life. It resulted in a still more pronounced harmony in his paintings. He committed himself to a subdued and evocative color palette as much in his landscapes as in his still lifes. He continued to experiment, especially in the preparation of his canvases and the combination of different types of paints and finishes for the

completed paintings. At the beginning of the new century, still life became outmoded in America. It is because of that that Carlsen to an increasing degree turned back to painting landscapes and marine paintings. Carlsen’s still lifes nevertheless earned praise wherever they were exhibited. And it does not seem to be the case that he had any difficulty selling them. Most of the pictures he exhibited were sold in advance. Still, the New York Herald in 1904 wrote, “For years, Carlsen was known as a still life painter, and even though his works were excellent, they provided a limited livelihood. Of late, he has turned his gaze toward landscape painting, which has been to his advantage in the context of his already fine sense of color.”

Carlsen painted his landscapes from the house in Falls Village, but also painted a bit on the coast at Ogunquit in Maine, in Connecticut, at Niagara Falls, and not least in Denmark. After the turn of the century, he painted especially lyrical forest views, diffuse landscapes, and evocative marine pictures. Critics and buyers liked what they saw. Carlsen now exhibited every year at the National Academy of Design and in other public exhibitions.

In 1904, the seal of approval finally came for Emil Carlsen’s art. He was chosen to be an Associate of the National Academy, an honorable position. That same year he won the prestigious Shaw Prize in the Society of American Artists exhibition. He was also awarded the Inness Prize at the Salmagundi Club. Last but not least, he took the gold medal at the World’s Fair in St. Louis for the still life Blackfish and Clams (fig. 29), which was donated to the Metropolitan Museum in 1905 where it can still be seen. Orders from the country’s art collectors now flowed in. From this breakthrough year to his death, Emil Carlsen won one or more prizes or monetary awards at all of the large exhibitions in the U.S. He won gold medals at both the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915 and in Philadelphia in 1926. Naturally, many galleries and art dealers around the country became interested in representing Carlsen. Sales were exceptional. A number of solo exhibitions were held. For example, Carlsen had a large exhibition predominantly of pictures painted in Denmark at the respected Bauer Folsom Galleries on Fifth Avenue. The exhibition was a great success, and Carlsen’s pictures were praised to the skies: “There is a refreshingly interesting exhibition of works that exhibit a rare power in their honest and simple expression … His works reflect a wise and pure mind. In short, Carlsen is a man who paints what appeals to him in a manner that suits him and that suits the

public,” stated one of many New York newspapers.

In 1909, Carlsen also exhibited internationally, namely at the biennale in Venice, a city that he had visited the year before on a European grand tour. Although there was plenty to do in the studio, there was always time to instruct, among other subjects, still life at the National Academy, even as he also wrote for the periodical Palette and Bench. Among others, he wrote two long articles about still life painting and the use of tempera.

George A. Hearn, who was one of the country’s greatest patrons of the arts, gave a large donation to the Metropolitan Museum, which comprised a collection of American art. Among these works was Emil Carlsen’s Open Sea (fig. 10). The painting was put forward as one of the collection’s high points by the city’s critics.  Among others, The New York Times wrote, “The fantastic clouds that rise majestically reveal voluptuous color … The painting has great artistic value. Carlsen uniquely executes filling the frame with airiness without losing the beauty of his surfaces, which have the costly quality of old porcelain.”  In the same connection, Hearn lent a number of other Carlsen paintings from his private collection to the museum.

Emil Carlsen The Open Sea, 1909

Fig. 10. Open Sea, 1909. Oil on canvas. 122 x 147 cm. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

At home, the Carlsen family lived a harmonious life. A great many photographs are preserved, which show happy times for the couple and their son. Early in childhood, the young Dines Carlsen showed an interest in and talent for painting and drawing. He quickly became an essential part of the studio with his father, and the two of them developed a close relationship and sense of commonality in art.

At the exhibition at the National Academy in 1916, Emil Carlsen won a prize almost as a matter of course, this time the Saltus Gold Medal for a marine painting that, according to the papers, touched many of the exhibition’s visitors with its peaceful and trancelike impression. In the same exhibition, the 15-year-old Dines was represented for the first time by a still life. He took one of the smaller prizes, sold the painting, and impressed viewers with his talent.

Fig. 11. Dines Carlsen with his photographic apparatus in his father’s studio. Ca. 1915.

Fig. 12. Dines Carlsen. The Samovar, ca. 1918. Oil on canvas. 109 x 84 cm. Private collection.

Dines’s paintings were to a great extent paraphrases of his father’s still lifes, but he later developed his own artistic expression and made a living as an artist throughout his life.

Emil Carlsen had a very comfortable personality. This resulted in his having many friends in the American art world. Among them were the painters Childe Hassam, Julian Alden Weir, Kenyon Cox, Harry Siddons Mowbray, and William Merritt Chase.  He cultivated his social relationships in various clubs and artist associations. In the course of the early twentieth century, Carlsen became increasingly well known. He came to be seen as a wise old gentleman of American art. Among his friends, he was never called anything other than “Old Carlsen.”

Demand for Carlsen’s pictures did not diminish. The exclusive Macbeth Gallery in particular could sell everything from him for sky-high prices. References to him in the New York media were also noteworthy. Every time he showed a painting, an effusive review followed. For example, in 1919, when he won yet another prestigious prize at the academy’s winter exhibition, namely the Carnegie Prize for the painting A Wave at Skagen:

“This is a remarkable work of art. No painter knows better how to handle the material. The color is wonderful, like tones in old porcelain, and the surface is beautiful and free of an oil painting’s glossiness. The painting wins the prize absolutely,” wrote The New York

Times.

His paintings also fetched high prices at the local auctions. At his painter-colleague Chase’s estate auction in 1912 [Chase died in 1916, so not sure what part of this sentence is in error, the auction or the date], one of his still lifes with a kettle sold for $620. At the time, one could purchase a painting by Edouard Manet for less. At the art collector Hearn’s death in 1920, one of the highest priced paintings was a marine picture of Carlsen’s that sold for $2,000, which was a dizzying amount at the time, but not so dizzying as the prices his paintings brought at the galleries. Most of them sold for $3,000 each with many marked higher. Thus it had come to be for a painter who at one time wouldn’t say no when offered $15 for one of his paintings. After he became a made man, it happened more than once that he would paint a picture that he would not part with for any price. Thus, Carlsen wrote in a letter to the Macbeth Gallery prior to a large solo exhibition in 1922:

“Regarding Picture from Tibet (fig. 53), I would like to keep it. Set it out, therefore, with a very high price, and even at this price, I’m not interested in selling it. It’s a quite special picture with a finish I haven’t been able to achieve since.”

The same was true when in the 1920s J. G. Butler was in the midst of building the first museum of American art, the Butler Institute of American Art. He seen The Surf (fig. 34) at an exhibition, which he very much wanted for his museum. He considered the picture to be the best marine painting ever painted. The painting belonged to Carlsen himself. Butler tried for six years to buy it before he finally succeeded. Macbeth Gallery was able to convey the good news in a letter to Butler on 26 January 1923:

“Over and over we brought up the subject with Mr. Carlsen, and each time we hoped against expectation, to catch him in an indulgent mood, but each time he categorically resisted allowing anyone to buy his best marine painting. We didn’t lose courage though, because we know that Carlsen is a gentleman with a distinctly artistic and changeable temperament. One day last week, when Carlsen came into the gallery in a splendid humor, I again brought up the subject and argued that you ought to have permission to buy the picture for your museum. He gave in at last and said, ‘So, what we’ll do is let Mr. Butler have the painting. He shall pay $5,000 for it and no other can have it for that or any higher price. I had reckoned that Mrs. Carlsen should have the painting as a sort of life insurance from me, but Mr. Butler must thus have it,’”

wrote Robert McIntyre from the Macbeth Galleries about the transaction for the picture. The painting still hangs in the museum’s permanent exhibition galleries.

Seen with Danish eyes, a very special auction took place at the exclusive Plaza Hotel in 1922. Sixty-three pictures came under the hammer. According to The New

York Times, the paintings belonged to the art dealer and auction house Winkel and Magnussen in Copenhagen. The paintings had earlier belonged to the Montaignac Collection in Paris. At this auction were almost exclusively the top French names: Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Dupré, Pissaro, and then one painting by Emil Carlsen, a still life of apples, which was sold on a level comparable to the French names. It is not known how Carlsen came to be in this fine collection or why Winkel and Magnussen established the auction in the U.S.

In 1922, Carlsen was again cast in the role of writer. He contributed as an author to the book Julian Alden Weir: An Appreciation of His Life and Works. Carlsen wrote a chapter about the painter who had been his friend for many years and had comparatively recently died.

Even though Carlsen had become a big name in the U.S., he continued to be completely unknown in Denmark. In 1921, he was named in a reconstruction [?] speech held by the American ambassador as an example of one Dane who had made a contribution to American society. In art historian and painter Karl Madsen’s book about the painters of Skagen from 1929, Carlsen was named but very briefly.

In the 1930s, even though Carlsen was well on in years, he was in no way weakened. He painted for dear life and instructed young artists who sought his help. Carlsen was happy and content with his life to the last. He died on the 2nd of January 1932 at the age of 83, of a heart attack and, according to The New York Times, he left behind a large estate.

Fig. 13. The family Carlsen at home, ca. 1925.

Typically Danish

Emil Carlsen was 24 years old when he moved to the U.S. During his entire life he appreciated his homeland greatly and traveled, by today’s standards, a great many times back to Denmark. Today, many descriptions of Emil Carlsen are preserved, both in newspaper articles and in correspondence with various people in the American artists’ circles. All of the material indicates that Carlsen remained very Danish in his lifestyle, including after he achieved wealth. He was a very modest and humble man who turned frequently to irony and sarcasm.

Erwin S. Barrie was director of the Grand Central Art Galleries in New York. In the 1920s, he sold many of Carlsen’s paintings. In the context of a retrospective exhibition in 1968, he noted the following in the foreword to the catalog:

“Emil was quite a thin man with a red beard, and he was always dressed in a grey tweed suit, which surely was never ironed … I remember one time when I was in the midst of selling one of his still lifes to a customer. I introduced the customer to Emil, but he wasn’t much help. He told the customer that Childe Hassam was the most competent American painter, and I couldn’t get him to say a single good thing about his own pictures.”

The same modesty permeated Carlsen’s entire manner of living. He never saw himself as any kind of oracle or God’s gift to art. The art collector August Bontoux described in a letter a meeting between himself and the then 78-year-old Carlsen:

“I was surprised to see a lively gentleman who appeared to be about 65 years old, well dressed, but very, very simply. He had a wild beard and wore glasses. Everything pointed to a strong personality who had come to be at peace with himself. You know, Emil Carlsen is a big name, and I had expected the opposite. I had reckoned with seeing a well-groomed, unapproachable, intellectual aristocrat who was very particular about his appearance. But wealth and fame hadn’t sullied this man’s soul … it had no effect on him. He is even, friendly, and forthcoming. It shows that greatness and humility come from the same root.”

Even though Emil Carlsen appreciated both the beauty of nature and of his homeland, where it is periodically winter, he never painted snow scenes. He hated the cold. He once was offered a mobile studio, built on top of a sledge, which his good friend, the painter Alden Weir, had used some. But he turned the offer down.  It was for this reason that he visited and stayed in Denmark only in the summer. While he couldn’t abide the snow, he had a more congenial relationship with the sea:

“Carlsen’s marine pictures are executed with great affection. Carlsen loved the sea. An American painter recalled a time when he met Carlsen at Ogunquit. Along the coast, in the moonlight, they stayed and watched over the deep dark sea with its sparkling and luminous stretch toward the horizon. They stood enthralled until Carlsen cast his hat down on the beach and shouted, ‘My God, but it’s wonderful!’ Several of Carlsen’s nocturnes give one a feeling of an out-of-body experience and the essence of his greatness and affection,” wrote art historian Newlin Price in 1922.

In spite of Carlsen being a very tolerant person, he didn’t have much good to say about modern art: “I’m old-fashioned. I cannot understand people who could just a well smear a

tomato on a canvas. Regardless of the situation, a painting is not good when it is ugly – it can’t just be experimental. It must also contain other qualities than being made in an unusual way,” he said in a conversation with Newlin Price shortly before his death. In a letter to one of his former students in 1928, Carlsen wrote that painters like Matisse and Derain were, truth be told, talented painters, but each was “a bit of a charlatan” in their art. He didn’t bring his criticisms forward into public debate, but kept his opinions to himself and his inner circle.

In Carlsen’s memorial, which fills a full page in The New York Times, his Danish heritage was described for the first time. It was the art writer Elisabeth Luther Cary who connected Carlsen’s art with the Danish tradition. Until that time, his artistic output was seen in the context of the U.S.’s own painters, among whom were Childe Hassam and Julian Alden Weir, but Cary went deep into the argument that he was entirely Danish.

“When one looks back through his paintings, one is put in mind of the Danish position with regard to ceramicists, who create work with a care, patience, and selective taste, eliminating everything superfluous to the most elevated forms, the most perfect foundation for design.”

She continued with the Danish angle thus:

“Those who saw the Danish paintings exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum a couple of years ago will find it easy to connect Carlsen’s art with theirs on the basis of its honesty and simplicity ( … ) His work is an expression of the Danes’ special quality, their equilibrium and balance between the cool and the emotional,” she wrote in the memorial.

She closely compared Carlsen with Vilhelm Hammershøi while also explaining the differences between the two painters:

“Vilhelm Hammershøi, a melancholy genius, expressed with grays all the anger from his youth and the problems in his fragile mind, whereas Emil Carlsen expressed the purity of his mind and his happiness about life. Nevertheless, the Nordic mystique is present in both artists.”

She thereupon criticized American chauvinism and the perception that all who came from outside were subsumed by an American approach to art. It was her opinion that this was nonsense, that art most often was rooted in the soul’s heritage. Not least, she believed that Emil Carlsen was a Dane with a capital “D” in his art and in his way of being. “Whether we know it or not, when we lost Carlsen, our society lost the revelation of a nation’s character, “ she concluded with an eye to the future Parnassus of art critics. Carlsen gave the impression that he was just as happy whether people liked him or not. That didn’t stop him from being a perfectionist and critic of his own

production. He was not only a perfectionist but also a bit vain with regard to his own work. Late in his career, after he had come into some money, he bought back several of his pictures in order to destroy them, for example, in 1927, when he came across three early pictures. “He paid $1,100 for them and took them home and burned them,” related one of his acquaintances in a letter. A number of well known Danish painters also did the same, among them Egill Jacobsen. Late in his career, Carlsen also bought back several pictures that had sentimental value, among them a portrait of Dines as a child.

The Travels

By far the majority of Carlsen’s paintings from Denmark stem from Skagen. It was the natural place to gravitate toward … it was sunny, by the sea, and possessed light-filled landscapes. Besides, he knew a number of the artists at this colony at the tip of Jutland, among others Carl Locher, Viggo Johansen, and the more peripheral Julius Paulsen and Christian Blache.  During one of Carlsen’s stays in Skagen, Michael Ancher painted a portrait of him in the dining room of the Brøndum Hotel. The dining room’s interior and paintings were transferred to the Skagen Museum in 1946, where the room can still be visited. Unfortunately, there wasn’t space for all the paintings after the move, which is why the remaining paintings stayed at the hotel. It was a fatal decision. The portrait of Emil Carlsen was lost, along with a large portion of the hotel, in two fires in the 1950s.

At Skagen, Emil Carlsen overwhelmingly painted the sea, dunes, and beach. His finest marine paintings stem from these periods in Skagen. At home in the U.S., he was unable to attain the same quality in his sea pictures. He could do this in Skagen in large part because of the exceptional light. One of the motifs that fascinated him most was the intersecting currents at Grenen (fig. 49 [actually fig. 50]), a fascination that he shared with Holger Drachmann, who painted the motif over and over again. A number of Carlsen’s paintings from Skagen resemble Julius Paulsen’s very much. It is testament to a special artistic fellowship in the approach to painting nature. They were both occupied with painting the sea at night, and both were accomplished at capturing the essence of the day’s later hours.

Occasionally, Carlsen also painted subjects from other places in Denmark. For example, an excellent painting is known from 1912 that depicts Vejle Havn (fig. 41). When Carlsen was in Denmark, he usually arrived late in the year and stayed through the summer. When the weather was oppressive, he took himself off farther south, for example, to Rome or Venice, or he went back to New York to transform the studies from Denmark into finished paintings. Once he visited the Danish West Indies [U.S. Virgin Islands] on the way home to

the U.S. It’s also known that he has been in Norway, Italy, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Germany, and in London several times, and one time in Istanbul.

His family often traveled with him. In any event, they were with him twice in Skagen. The following appears in Brøndum’s Hotel guest book in 1909: “On the 6th of June, Emil Carlsen, artist, arrived with his wife and son. Domicile: New York City, U.S.A., coming from the Netherlands and subsequently departed with Hamburg as their destination.” On this visit, the family lived at the hotel for several months. The following year they returned to Brøndum’s Hotel. The following appears in the guest book: “On the 29th of October 1910, Emil Carlsen, artist, arrived with his wife and son. Domicile: New York City, U.S.A., coming from Vejle and departing to New York.”

Several times, Carlsen’s stay was noted in the local newspapers that were published in Skagen. Vendsyssel Tidende wrote on the 25th of October 1908: “The painter Emil Carlsen, New York, currently lodged at Brøndum’s Hotel, has lately thrown himself avidly into his art, recording accomplished studies among the dunes and by the harbor.” Brøndum’s Hotel was not the only place he stayed. He stayed a few times at other different hotels in Skagen and Old Skagen.  It’s unfortunately impossible to create a full description of Carlsen’s many stays in Denmark because very little remains in the way of records from those periods of his life. Nevertheless, it’s known that he was in Denmark in the following years: 1877, 1890, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1917, 1918, 1919, 1922, and 1925, and probably several additional times.

Emil Carlsen, the Teacher

“Beauty can be found everywhere, even in the most humble things. But it is a requirement of the artistic vision to find the beauty and muster the artistic ability to reproduce that beauty on his canvas.” (Emil Carlsen)

The instruction of young artists was close to Emil Carlsen’s heart. Throughout his life, he had a number of students. He had the position of instructor at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts until 1918. Thereafter, he continued to give instruction as a guest lecturer at a number of schools and universities simultaneously with taking on private pupils. He had difficulty saying “no” to the hopeful young people who sought guidance from him. As late as 1930, for example, he had the painter Helen Keep as a student. She sent him a series of watercolors, which Carlsen critiqued in letters to her. The correspondence is preserved. The exchange is witness to a capable and sympathetic teacher who is not entirely fond of critiquing, but nevertheless gets his point across with the help of reason and suggestions. For example, in one of the letters, he wrote:

“The best paintings of interiors by Vermeer, Chardin, and Hammershøi typically have a figure or

two as pretexts. A still life ought not to have life in it, and it isn’t even necessary for a landscape to have life in it, but it is my view that an interior can use one or two figures … a dog or cat can serve the purpose. This is just my opinion, and it may well be that I am mistaken. Your pictures have quality, your color is deep and rich – but oils on a well prepared canvas will advance your work. Yours truly, Emil Carlsen”

The same year, Carlsen wrote to his earlier pupil, Claude Buck, who had written to him with a request for guidance in realizing the fine sort of background in a still life for which his old teacher was so well-known. Carlsen wrote the following in return:

“I use the absolute finest recipe for preparation of the canvas. It is the oldest and best Italian method and is completely reliable and solid. When you use the exactly like a recipe, it is all-consuming; if one uses a fraction too little zinc white, it might develop crackle, but it can be worth it to take the chance. It holds color fantastically, and if you have a fair amount of drawing to do on the picture, you can lay that down with tempera or watercolor. If you can’t obtain casein or zinc of good quality in Chicago, just sit tight and I’ll send you a box.”

The foregoing is testament to a very sympathetic and helpful teacher, who never tired of giving advice … wisdom that he himself had spent his lifetime acquiring.  Various letters from early students and colleagues are evidence for his pedagogical instincts and capable instruction. John Andrew Myers, head instructor at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts wrote in a letter in 1915 to Carlsen: “You are a source of inspiration for the studious and a true teacher of nature.” In John Steele’s extensive written portrait of Carlsen from 1927 in International Studio, Carlsen received the following character description:

“Practically speaking, Emil Carlsen has been a teacher for his entire life. Nevertheless, at the end of this long career, he demonstrates that all of the hand skills, all of the technique, all of the abilities to which pupils must dedicate themselves in art school, are worthless if the person concerned doesn’t have his own innate eye for things, his own vision, and something to say through his art … 74-year-old Emil Carlsen remained far more tolerant in his view of all artists than many of our younger men. Perhaps because he has sought his peace and happiness in his work, and because he never craved recognition in a shrill way, he has gained a quite certain place in American art.”

Carlsen’s Art

“When I stand before one of Emil Carlsen’s pictures, I realize that language cannot convey the feeling of such absolute visual satisfaction.” (D. Phillips, 1917)

Emil Carlsen is considered today in American art historical literature to be one of the American Impressionists. This is primarily because of his position with regard to light in marine and landscape paintings, but also because of his friendships with Childe Hassam, William Merritt Chase, Julian Alden Weir, and others. Here in Denmark one would likely call him an Impressionist-Symbolist painter with a pronounced fascination for the simple beauty of objects and nature. Carlsen reached deeply into his soul and brought forth a quite special expression, with the help of antique porcelain, some trees, a lyrical landscape scenes, an expression of a spiritual quest for the most perfect and lofty balance in existence. This philosophical basis for his art is evident in the earliest of his pictures, which were only landscapes and still lifes with no other content than the strictly naturalistic.

But in the course of the 1890s, he developed the form of expression that would be recognizably his throughout his entire artistic body of work. The Danish author Johannes Jørgensen once defined symbolism in a way that he himself promoted through the periodical The Tower. It is difficult to find a more striking description of Emil Carlsen’s artistic philosophy than exactly this definition of the symbolist artist:

“He feels his soul’s connection with nature’s soul and finds in the apparent indifference of things a secret world where his spirit possesses eternal citizenship. The true artist is thus of necessity symbolist. His soul recognizes the eternal within temporal things, wherefrom his own soul springs.”

The British-American painter James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) had somewhat the same position with regard to art, and in 1885, he said the following:

“Nature contains the elements of form and color, which occur in all pictures, in the same way that the piano contains all the notes from which music is composed. But the artist is born precisely for the purpose of plucking, choosing, and arranging these elements so that the result is pleasing – in the same manner as the composer gathers his tones and shapes them so that they bring the most beautiful harmony out of chaos.”

It’s not impossible to imagine that Carlsen had been inspired by Whistler. There are in any case several of his paintings that resemble Whistler’s, and their approaches to art were largely the same.

Carlsen was a dazzling technician and very thorough, almost scientific in his work. One thing that makes Carlsen’s work stand out is the thorough effort he made to prepare the canvases before a single motif was applied. He crafted almost abstract backgrounds for his paintings by using different techniques. Among other approaches, he was especially taken by the use of tempera together with oil colors, layer upon layer, separated by varnish in order to obtain the exactly correct feeling and tone. This was also something upon which

a high value was placed in his own time:

“A better chemist in the creation of color cannot be found than him, nor a better technician in the handling of the canvas. Once, Carlsen prepared six canvases for Weir, who hung them up on the wall straightaway and said, ‘Old Carlsen, they are too beautiful to paint upon.’ There is no better indicator of how it really was. He brings forth the spirit with color before the viewer in his own strange fashion, with a refinement that surprises in its simplicity. The almost nameless colors in Carlsen’s forest interiors express a strange harmony in a vague loneliness,” wrote Newlin Price in 1922.

It was not only in painting that Carlsen excelled. He was an avid draftsman. He always had his sketchbook with him. After photography gained ground, he began to take pictures, which he occasionally used as preludes to his paintings (fig. 14).

Fig. 14. Photograph from Skagen. The picture was used as a prelude to one of Carlsen’s paintings. Ca. 1908.

A few times, he tried his hand with sculpture and the graphic arts, but these media never captured his interest. His only foray into the graphic arts was a series of six woodcuts with a few trees, landscapes, and a simple still life. With regard to sculpture, only one example of a Carlsen of this type is known, namely self-portrait bust (fig. 15). It shows that he definitely had talent in this direction, but it was still not something he chose to pursue.

Fig. 15. Self-portrait. Bust of bronze. Ca. 1915. Private collection.

In 1906, Carlsen experienced for the first time a negative review in the newspaper columns. It occurred in The New York Times in connection with the year’s winter exhibition. Carlsen was represented by a few still lifes, which the critic could not abide. He had a particularly dim view of the picture Study in Gray (fig. 31):

“Perhaps he has pursued landscape painting too much, to the point that the knack that he has betrayed him. In any case, neither in the pencil strokes nor in the composition does the still life do justice to

his abilities … the clothing is not well painted; the pots, pans, and dishes are dull, and the entire canvas is empty and lacks glow.”

It seems a strange critique, given that the work is classic with respect to the spiritual content that Carlsen desired to express with his paintings. Most of the critics in the beginning of the twentieth century understood the purpose of his art.  Among them, the art historian John Steele, who wrote in the periodical International Studio in 1927:

“With the feeling of being bid welcome and reassured, we can seek refuge in the cool place of retreat that is Emil Carlsen’s art. In contrast to a hot bellicosity found in much contemporary American art, here we can experience a notable drop in temperature. There is nothing destructive, nothing dramatic, and nothing dynamic in these landscapes.”

The comment about the lack of dynamism is not exactly correct. In many of his pictures, there is a great deal of vigor; among others, a few almost expressionistic seascapes (fig. 34 and 35). If one interprets nature as an allegory of the artist’s soul, Carlsen must not have been completely without temperament.

Still lifes

Carlsen began to paint still lifes seriously after having become acquainted with Chardin’s art during his long stay in Paris in the mid-1880s. Jean-Baptiste Chardin (1699-1779) was a French painter who, among others, painted still lifes of great simplicity including, as a rule, kitchen utensils, fish, and wild game. Carlsen was quite fascinated by his mode of expression, and especially in the 1880s was especially influenced by him, which is plain to see in Carlsen’s early still life production (among others, the painting in fig. 18). With Chardin, it was especially the balance of things within the composition that signified and their ability to create various patterns and lines. Over time, Carlsen moved away from this manner and worked, as noted earlier, more for the purpose of creating moods and spiritual expressions with his pictures. He also became increasingly focused on the beauty of the individual jug or cup and not least with their interaction with the finely wrought background of the picture.

“Objects have a more mystical meaning for Carlsen; they delight his outer eye as they do with any other painter, but Carlsen also has an inner eye, an ability to see everything that others do not see – a rhythm and music and poetry, a purity and exaltation and sublimity that make his still life compositions classic.”

So wrote the art historian A. E. Bye in the Princeton University Press in 1921.

At the same time, it was especially his still lifes that caused critics to strew roses in his path:

“Emil Carlsen is without a doubt the most complete master of still life painting in America.

“When one looks at one of his compositions, one falls into the same thoughtful mood as one experiences when viewing a Perugino – sometimes, one feels the same mystical feeling as one has when standing before a Leonardo, “ wrote A. E. Bye further.

It is also this type of picture that today is most sought after in galleries and auction houses. Emil Carlsen’s previous auction record was set at Christie’s in New York where a collector in May 1990 big $650,000 for the picture Onions and Brown Jug, 1894, which at that time corresponded to 4.1 million Danish crowns.

Carlsen was not alone in having a unique talent for composing a painting to bring forth precisely the desired expression, but he was, as mentioned earlier, a consummate technician. Many tried to emulate his technique and ability to blend colors. That he had exceptional ability on this front finds expression in a letter from his son Dines to Helen Keep, who was a pupil of Carlsen’s:

“I remember many of father’s compositions ( … ) if you ask me about how he brought forth the unmatched grays, I would say that I wish I knew! And I have seen every single phase of every aspect of his work for 30 years.”

Over time, Carlsen built a collection of antiques, which he used in his pictures. At William Merritt Chase’s estate auction in 1912 [he’s still using this inaccurate death date for Chase], for example, he bought a great variety of Asian antiques. Afterward, these fine old objects came to dominate his repertoire of motifs at the cost of game, fish, flowers, and fruit.  Refined expression became more pronounced the older Carlsen became. The formal language in the paintings also became more abstract. Simultaneously, everything alive in the pictures was pushed aside by dead objects: from the start of his career it was fresh flowers, which were pushed aside by fruit and still later pushed aside by dead foliage and withered flowers. In the still lifes as seen over time, there’s a clear development from a tendency toward horror vacui in the earliest pictures to the opposite, wherein Carlsen is decidedly not afraid of empty surfaces in the compositions. On the contrary, he uses emptiness as a specific tool in his bold compositions. This is characteristic especially in the still lifes from 1910- 1925 (for example, figs. 47 and 51). [The figures that actually correspond to this argument are 48, 49, and 52.]

The Landscapes

Carlsen began his artistic career with marine painting. It was a genre that he pursued for his entire life, but over time, his depictions of nature also came to encompass landscapes, not least forest interiors. From childhood, the sea had impressed Carlsen deeply…the reflections of the light, the many colors of the sea, the unpredictable lines, the interaction with the clouds and the breaking waves. He felt a special happiness and inner calm each time he was in the vicinity of the sea.

He communicated this mood in his marine paintings, which he often executed on large canvases. In the early marine themes, one can detect traces of influence from Carl Locher and Christian Blache, while the form of expression in the later picture adheres quite closely to a number of Julius Paulsen’s works. In the beginning of his career, ships and other signs of life often appeared in Carlsen’s marine images, but these elements over time gave way to the sea’s own unmediated expression.

Emil Carlsen : Along the shore, Normandy, 1876.

Fig. 16. Along the Coast, 1876. Oil on canvas. 76.2 x 127 cm. Private collection.

In a number of the later pictures from Denmark and Italy there was off and on a ship in the background, a dinghy on the beach, or other evidence of the manmade, but these elements had more the purpose of setting a mood than expressing any kind of symbiosis between man and nature.

It was when he was in Paris that he began to deal with landscape specifically and in earnest. It was especially the French plein air painters who inspired him. After a string of experiments in this area, he found his own form of expression within the genre, and his own palette and selection of motifs.

Just as one perceives a fair amount of Vilhelm Hammershøi in the still lifes, one can also clearly see it in a number of the landscapes. The trees’ striving toward the heavens, the fine use of color, the diffuse light, and the use of few colors, of which Hammershøi’s brother Svend was also an exponent.

“He was definitely sought after to transform nature’s elements into a poetic harmony of color and form. Thanks to his masterly use of a limited color palette and exclusion of all disharmonious tones, Carlsen succeeded in creating a kind of landscape painting that leads one to use musical turns of phrase when one tries to describe it … Finally, it becomes obvious that this painter fundamentally is a poet. He is not so much a painter of trees and clouds and diffuse forest interiors, waves, and rocks as he is a painter of the moods in these natural objects, which inspire his soul,” wrote John Steele in 1927.

In Carlsen’s landscapes one finds traces of a clear shift in the manner of painting, as one approaches the twentieth century. Carlsen began to experiment more and more with technique. “By degrees, Carlsen developed a formula for the surface of his pictures, which is strikingly characteristic of his later works.

He built up and painted the surface so carefully only to scrape the painting off and paint it again and repeat this again and again to achieve a quite particularly rich and saturated texture on the canvas,” wrote Newlin Price quite aptly in his major article from 1922. Examples of this new mode of painting can be see, among others, in the paintings in figures 54, 58, and 59, where quite apart from the purely technical aspects, he to a large degree eliminates all unnecessary elements in the pictures.

It also helped to impress the critics and convinced many that even though he was unreceptive to the new directions in painting, he was still a modern painter, both in terms of technique and content, just in a different way than the Modernists in American painting:

“It always seemed to me as if he were trying to find a formal, symbolic manner of expression for the thoughts that nature brought forth … off and on it has a strange, hypnotic impact. It seems to me that the foremost quality in Emil Carlsen’s view of nature is a kind of passive kinetic ecstasy, like the spirit of the antique Sung landscapes,” wrote art critic Duncan Phillips in International Studio in 1917.

John Steele was also a very enthusiastic advocate for the quality of Carlsen’s later landscapes:

“’Lyrical,’ I believe, is a more fitting expression than ‘decorative’ to describe Carlsen’s use of objects in the open. These landscapes are composed in the same manner as music—music or lyric poetry. In the charming harmonies in the ‘forest cathedrals’ of young beech trees that filter the veiled sunlight through their leaves, one becomes gradually convinced that here is no attempt to be literary or naturalistic, but a definite transformation of things, a complete elimination of other than an introduction of a limited self-imposed color palette. Everything is focused on the ultimate expression of the inner poetry in the artist’s soul,” he wrote in 1927.

After His Death

After his death, much focus continued on Emil Carlsen’s work. A number of exhibitions were held. In these exhibitions, it was clear how broad and varied his work was.

In Carlsen’s obituary in The New York Times, Elisabeth Luther Cary wrote, among other things:

“He was probably the most convincing of the internationalists … He was a great painter. By means of his consistent fidelity to the powerful force of understatement, in his opposition to all cheap methods … he was unique among his contemporaries in his attentiveness to every step in his work from the beginning to the end.”

A few years after his death, he efforts won further acclaim in American art:

“The beauty in Carlsen’s works grows with time. Just like the nineteenth-century Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi, with whom he artistically has much in common, Emil Carlsen could produce wonderful results with taciturn, delicate colors such as gray and cool silvery gray and with delicate white, and warmth through the understated earthy colors. The quiet magic in his works is unforgettably exemplified in several of his still lifes,” wrote The New York Times in 1935 in connection with a large retrospective exhibition at the Macbeth Gallery.

Through the years, one exhibition after another was held of Carlsen’s works. Many museums purchased his work for their collections and among private collectors he remained in high regard, which was and is obvious both with galleries and auction houses. In no way did Carlsen fall into oblivion after his death.

At this end of this book is a list of Carlsen’s solo exhibitions, as well as a list of many of the largest museums where he is represented.

As time passed, Carlsen’s work also came to be interpreted through the lens of the present:

“Carlsen demonstrates, with a defined and comfortable world, an eclecticism accustomed to investigation of a personal relationship with color. The sensitivity is most clearly expressed in the most simplified compositional formats. They crop up in the middle of his career, when Impressionism had pushed him in the direction of landscape painting. Philosophically and temperamentally, the paintings are conservative, but formally Carlsen explores color in a way that aligns him with the other artists of the twentieth century, especially the lyrical abstractions from the 1950s. Within the academic tradition, his best paintings exhibit a personal, lyrical standpoint that expresses traditional values of beauty and harmony in an almost abstract manner,” wrote art historian Susan Platt Carmalt in the interpretation for a large exhibition in 1978.

As recently as 1999 a fantastic exhibition was held, exclusively featuring Carlsen’s still lifes. It bore the title Quiet Magic; The Still life Paintings of Emil Carlsen.  A great book appeared simultaneously with the same name, written by the recognized American art historian Ulrich W. Hiesinger. The exhibition took place at the fashionable art gallery Vance Jordan Fine Arts on Madison Avenue in New York.  The exhibition was a great success, and the book was sold out and is today impossible to find secondhand.

At the moment, the largest project to date is under way with the organization “Classical Realist.” At the time of this writing, it

bears the title Emil Carlsen: The Complete Known Works. It is expected to appear in 2009 or 2010 and will comprise a comprehensive list of his output. In other words, there is nothing to suggest that Carlsen’s work will slip into obscurity in the near future.

Fig. 17. Emil Carlsen, 1848-1932.

Emil Carlsen Still life, brass bowl, ducks and bottles, 1883

Fig. 18. Still life, 1883. Oil on canvas. 98.8 x 127.6 cm. Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

May (also called May Morning & French Landscape), 1885

Fig. 19. French Landscape, 1885. Oil on canvas. 63.5 x 89 cm. Private collection.

Emil Carlsen : Arranging flowers, 1886.

Fig. 20. Arranging Flowers, 1885. Oil on canvas. 20 x 15 cm. MME Fine Art, New York.

Emil Carlsen Violets, c.1897

Fig. 21. Blue Violets, ca. 1887. Oil on canvas. 21 x 16 cm. Private collection.

Emil Carlsen : Copper bowl, white vase, cloth and onions, ca.1890.

Fig. 22. Still life, 1890. Oil on canvas. 76.2 x 63.5 cm. Private collection.

Emil Carlsen White Asparagus 1891

Fig. 23. Pitchers and Asparagus, 1891. Oil on canvas. 61 x 46 cm. Private collection.

Emil Carlsen Cracked Ice 1894

Fig. 24. The Punch Bowl, 1894. Oil on canvas. 56 x 68 cm. Private collection.

Emil Carlsen Two Dories 1895

Fig. 25. Two Rowboats, 1895. Oil on canvas. 41 x 61 cm. Christie’s Images.

Emil Carlsen : Still life with copper pan, 1901.

Fig. 26. Still life, 1901. Oil on canvas. 82.5 x 74.9 cm. Salmagundi Club.

Fig. 27. Still life, ca. 1902. Oil on canvas. 82 x 70 cm. Private collection.

Fig. 28. Still life, 1903. Oil on canvas. 61.9 x 76.2 cm. Private collection.

Fig. 29. Blackfish and Clams, 1904. Oil on canvas. 87 x 97 cm. The Metropolitan

Museum of Art.

Fig. 30. Gallows Mountains, 1905. Oil on canvas. 93 x 85 cm. Sotheby’s Images.

Fig. 31. Study in Gray, 1905. Oil on canvas. 86.4 x 96.5 cm. Dallas Museum of

Art.

Fig. 32. Moonlight on the Kattegat. Oil on canvas. 113 x 99 cm. Private

collection.

Fig. 33. Moonlight. Oil on canvas. 101.6 x 114.3 cm. Private collection.

Fig. 34. The Surf, 1907. Oil on canvas. 162.6 x 188 cm. Butler Institute of

American Art.

Fig. 35. Burning, 1907. Oil on canvas. 40.6 x 50.8 cm. Private collection.

Fig. 36. Danish Summer, 1907. Oil on canvas. 38.1 x 45 cm. Private collection.

Fig. 37. Venice, 1908. Oil on canvas. 51 x 63.5 cm. Private collection.

Fig. 38. Skagen Southern Beach. Oil on canvas. 50.8 x 61 cm. Private collection.

Fig. 39. Skagen Beach, 1909. Oil on canvas. 101.6 x 114.3 cm. Smithsonian

American Art Museum.

Fig. 40. The Market, Venice, 1909. Oil on canvas. 50.8 x 61 cm. Godel & Co. Fine

Art, New York.

Fig. 41. Morning at Vejle Harbor, 1912. Oil on canvas. 64.1 x 76.6 cm.

DuMouchelles, Detroit.

Fig. 42. Vejle Fjord, 1912. Oil on canvas. 38 x 45 cm. Georgia Museum of Art.

Fig. 43. Hillside Landscape. Oil on canvas. 30 x 40 cm. Skinner, Inc.

Fig. 44. Meeting of the Two Seas, Skagen. Oil on canvas. 44.5 x 38.1 cm.

Christie’s Images.

Fig. 45. Night at Niagara Falls. Oil on canvas. 37 x 35.5 cm. Private collection.

Fig. 46. Woodland. Oil on canvas. 63.5 x 76.2 cm. Private collection.

Fig. 47. Woodland, ca. 1918. Oil on canvas. 88.9 x 76.2 cm. Private collection.

Fig. 48. The Fan, ca. 1919. Oil on canvas. 38.7 x 46.4 cm. St. Louis Art Museum.

Fig. 49. The Fan, 1919. Oil on canvas. 45.7 x 45.7 cm. Art Gallery of Toronto.

Fig. 50. Branch of Skagen, 1919. Oil on canvas. 118.75 x 148.59 cm. Private

collection. [uncertain about translation of this title; Skagen is a town and beach,

and “branch” doesn’t make immediate sense]

Fig. 51. Skagen, ca. 1925. Oil on canvas. 63.5 x 76.2 cm. Private collection.

Fig. 52. Still life, ca. 1915. Oil on canvas. 50.8 x 40.6 cm. Private collection.

Fig. 53. Picture from Tibet, 1920. Oil on canvas. 100 x 69 cm. Corcoran Gallery

of Art.

Fig. 54. Landscape. Oil on canvas. 86.4 x 97.8 cm. Private collection.

Fig. 55. Landscape, Connecticut, 1920. Oil on canvas. 116 x 98 cm. Private

collection.

Fig. 56. Woodland, 1922. Oil on canvas. 95 x 81 cm. Private collection.

Fig. 57. Woodland, 1926. Oil on canvas. 113 x 99 cm. Private collection.

Fig 58. A Stretch of Coast, ca. 1927. Oil on canvas. 71.2 x 81.3 cm. Private

collection.

Fig. 59. Late Summer, ca. 1928. Oil and tempera on canvas. 76.2 x 101.6 cm.

Private collection.

Fig. 60. Still life, ca. 1929. Oil on canvas. 97.2 x 86.4 cm. St. Louis Art Museum.

Fig. 61. Still life. Oil on canvas. 40.6 x 43.8 cm. Private collection.

Fig. 62. Still life, ca. 1930. Oil on canvas. 61 x 51 cm. Private collection.

Fig. 63. Ming Vases, 1931. Oil on canvas. 76.2 x 58.4 cm. Private collection.

Fig. 64. Misty Sea. Oil on canvas. 101.6 x 113.9 cm. Brigham Young University

Museum of Art.

The Other Danish Painters

Besides Lauritz Holst, who was Carlsen’s employer in the first years in the U.S., a

number of Danish artists have tried their luck on the other side of the Atlantic. Emil

Carlsen was without doubt the Danish artist who achieved the greatest success in

the promised land. But there were others who managed remarkably.

Not least is Olaf Wieghorst. He was born in Viborg in 1899. He had an equestrian

act in Circus Schumann [never heard of this before, but online resources say he

worked at a circus in Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen] before he emigrated to the

U.S. as a 19-year-old. There, he worked on several farms, among others in New

a number of times at Charlottenborg and sold his paintings to the king, among

others. Today, Ferdinand Richard is best known for his views of Danish estates. He

also managed to travel a bit in Italy and North America, before he emigrated with

his family from Denmark, landing in San Francisco in 1873. Emigration to the U.S.

was prompted by the fact that Richard, during a long stay in the U.S. in the 1850s,

had established a name for himself there, and among other opportunities received a

commission from the wealthy [Cornelius] Vanderbilt to paint pictures from Niagara

Falls. After his emigration, his popularity continued, and he became very wealthy.

He is today represented in a number of fine museums and collections, among which

are the White House, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Fine Arts Museums of

San Francisco, and the Oakland Museum of California. He died on the 31st of

October 1895.

Ernest Ludwig Ipsen (1869-1951) was still another of the Danish émigrés who

found success. He became a portrait painter in high demand, and his pictures may

be found today in a range of different museums in the U.S.

By far the majority of the émigré Danish painters, however, did not manage so

well. Many had to give up painting and become laborers. A few scraped together

enough for a return ticket to Denmark, but others fell into poverty.

Fig. 67. Ferdinand Richard, A Stretch of Coast, 1846. Oil on canvas. 77 x 119 cm. Private collection.

Timeline of Carlsen’s Life and Work

1848-1865:

Søren Emil Carlsen is born in Copenhagen on 19 October 1848 and is schooled at

The Western Institution.

1866-1869:

Architecture studies at the art academy in Copenhagen. Receives in 1869 the

Neuhausen Prize for a painting and drawing of Christian III’s monument in the

Roskilde cathedral.

1870:

Carlsen receives instruction from Christian Blache and Viggo Johansen.

1871-1872:

In the military, 15th and 18th battalions, respectively in Copenhagen and at

Kronborg in Helsingør [Shakespeare’s/Hamlet’s “Elsinore”]

1872:

Immigrates to America and obtains work at a drawing studio in Chicago.

1873:

Works with the Danish marine painter Laurits Holst and later takes over his studio.

1874:

Becomes an instructor at the Chicago Art Institute.

1875:

Travels to Denmark and on to Paris to study painting, where he stays for half a

year, before returning to New York.

1876:

Moves to Boston

1877:

Exhibits for the first time at the Boston Art Club with the pictures, Out on the

Kattegat and Seaweed Cart, two pictures painted on a trip in Denmark. Carlsen is

home in Denmark several summers. Especially after 1900, he is home [in

Denmark] almost every year.

1879:

Carlsen is in debt to an auction house and is forced to take work as an architect.

1881-1883:

Again gets his career as a painter on track. Opens his own studio and exhibits,

among other pieces, Peonies, at the Pennsylvania Academy.

1884-1886:

Travels to Paris and paints flower picture on commission from American art dealers.

But he also paints for his own sake and exhibits at the 1885 Salon, among other

places, before he returns home to the U.S.

1887-1890:

Becomes head of the San Francisco Art School and later an instructor at the Art

Students’ League. He paints and exhibits a bit himself.

1891:

Moves to New York. During the next ten years, he moves often and is an instructor

at many different art schools.

1896:

Marries Luella May Ruby, the day before his birthday.

1901:

His son Dines is born.

1904:

Breakthrough year. Carlsen receives a gold medal at the World’s Fair. He is

elected an Associate of the National Academy and lands several large prizes. From

this year forward, Carlsen is honored with prizes and favorable reviews at all of the

large exhibitions.

1905:

Builds a house in the country in Falls Village, Connecticut. The summer house

becomes, together with their large apartment in Manhattan, the foundation of the

Carlsen family’s life.

1909:

Writes two long articles about still life and the use of tempera for the periodical

Palette and Bench. Exhibits at the biennale in Venice.

1911:

Becomes affiliated with the exclusive Macbeth Gallery in New York, which can sell

everything that Carlsen paints.

1912-1931:

Emil Carlsen lives very well from his art and is at the top of the American art world.

He is included in a number of artists’ associations and social clubs. He teaches

steadily for his own satisfaction and travels often.

1932:

Emil Carlsen dies at home at the age of 83.

Represented in the Following Museums

Addison Gallery of American Art

Albright Art Gallery

Brigham Young University Art Gallery

Brooklyn Institute Museum

Bruce Museum

Butler Art Institute

California Historical Society

Chicago Art Institute

Cleveland Museum of Art

Columbus Museum

Corcoran Gallery of Art

Dallas Museum of Fine Arts

DAAP Galleries, University of Cincinnati

Dayton Art Institute

Detroit Institute of Art

Elgin Academy

Evansville Museum of Art

Farnsworth Art Museum

Figge Art Museum

Florence Griswold Museum

Georgia Museum of Art

Heckscher Museum

Hermitage Foundation Museum

Houston Museum of Fine Arts

Huntington Museum of Art

IBM Gallery of Art and Science

Indianapolis Museum of Art

Joslyn Art Museum

Copenhagen City Museum

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Mills College Art Museum

Minneapolis Institute of Art

Muskegon Museum of Art

Nashville Parthenon

National Cathedral

National Collection of Fine Arts

National Portrait Gallery

New Britain Museum of American Art

North Carolina Museum of Art

Norton Gallery of Art

Oakland Museum

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Princeton University Art Museum

Rhode Island School of Design

Saint Louis Art Museum

San Diego Museum of Art

Seattle Art Museum

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Toledo Museum of Art

Toronto Art Gallery

Tweed Museum

Wadsworth Atheneum

Worchester Art Museum

and others

Emil Carlsen’s Larger Solo Retrospectives

1935 Macbeth Gallery, New York

1958 Grand Central Galleries, New York

1968 Grand Central Galleries, New York

1973 Texas Museum of Art

1975 Wortsman Rowe Galleries, San Francisco

1975 Rubicon Gallery, [Los Altos], California

1975 El Paso Museum of Art

1975 Robert Rice Gallery, New York

1975 Coe Kerr Gallery, New York

1975 The Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego

1975 The Norton Gallery of Art, West Palm Beach

1977 Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art

1978 Robert Rice Gallery, New York

1999 Vance Jordan Fine Arts, New York

Member of the Following Associations

Paint and Clay Club, Boston

St. Botolph Club, Boston

Bohemian Club, San Francisco

Society of American Artists

National Academy of Design (Associate 1904, Academician 1906)

National Institute of Arts and Letters (Academician)

Lotos Club, [New York]

Salmagundi Club

Century Association, American Federation of Arts

Art Club of Philadelphia

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (Fellow)

Emil Carlsen’s Students [rearranged into alphabetical order from the random

order in which this list was published]

Frederick Becker (1888-1974)

Anne Milly Bremer (1868-1923)

Claude Buck (1890-1974)

Jay Hall Connaway (1893-1970)

Edwin Deakin (1938-1923)

Margaret Anna Dobson (1888-1981)

John M. Gamble (1863-1957)

Percy Gray (1869-1952)

Charles W. Hargens, Jr. (1893-1997)

Margaret Cox Herrick (1865-1950)

Isabel Hunter (1865-1941)

Helen Hyde (1868-1919)

William Keith (1838-1911)

[Helen Keep is mentioned in the text, but was not on this list.]

Andrew Loomis (1892-1959)

Arthur Frank Mathews (1860-1945)

Marie Evelyn McCormick

Jane Roma McElroy (1867-1923)

Slyngbom, H. Danish Artists’ Encyclopedia. Originally published in 1944, reprinted

in1988 by the Dansk Historisk Håndbogsforlag.

Tophøj, Knud. Christian Blache – Painter from Hirtshal in the Summers of 1902-

1919. Local historical society imprint, 1998.

Weilbach. New Danish Artists’ Encyclopedia. 1994.

Westphal, Ruth. Plein Air Painters of California. Irvine, 1986.

Wivel, Henrik. Svend Hammershøi – An Artist and His Time. Skovgaard Museum,

2008.

Wivel, Henrik. New Danish Art History, v. 5: Symbolism and Impressionism.

Fogtdal,1994.

Auction catalogs from Nelleman & Thomsen, Herholt-Jensen, Sotheby’s, Christie’s,

Bonham’s, Phillips, Skinner, Butterfield’s.

Archival materials from the Danish Emigrant Archive, Aalborg; the National Defense

Archives; the Provincial Archives for Zealand; Copenhagen’s State Archive; Skagen

Local Collection; Smithsonian Archives of American Art; and private archives.

Newspaper clippings, notes, and articles from The New York Times; The New York

Herald; assorted newspapers from Chicago, Boston, and other unidentified clippings

from the period 1884-1935.

Letters, manuscripts, and photos, Smithsonian Institution Archives of American Art.

Private collections of letters, photos, and paintings.

Diverse exhibition catalogs.

Emil Carlsen’s Signatures

Up to 1882:

From about 1882-1888.

From 1880 forward.

WORKS BY EMIL CARLSEN

 

 


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©2013-2017 Emil Carlsen Archives

Digital-born Publication Title: Emil Carlsen Archives
Publication Subtitle: World's Largest Visual Reference Dedicated to the Preservation of the Work of Danish-American Impressionist/Realist Painter, Emil Carlsen [1848-1932]
Library of Congress Subject Authority Heading: Carlsen, Emil, 1853-1932
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