Soren Emil Carlsen was born October 19, 1853 and died on January 2, 1932. He was born in Denmark and emigrated to the US, settling in New York City. He was known for his still life’s and later for his beautiful landscapes and marine work as well.
After studying architecture, he became more interested in fine art. He was appointed the first teacher of drawing and painting at the Chicago Academy of Design. Carlsen sought more training and traveled to Paris in 1875, where he studied under the French still life painter Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin. When he returned to the United States, he set up a studio in New York and began to painted tonalist still lifes that were somewhat reminiscent of those of Chardin. He briefly taught art at the California School Of Design and then at the San Francisco Art Student’s League until 1891.
Returning to the East coast, he began a long career of teaching at prestigious art schools. He taught at the National Academy of Design, at the student-founded Art Student’s League, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Gradually, through his relationship with other New York-based painters and teachers such as John Twachtman and Julian Alden Weir, he became interested in painting landscapes and marines. Carlsen sketched in Connecticut in the early 1900s, visiting his friend Julian Alden Weir in Branchville, Fairfield County, Connecticut. This became the famous “Weir Farm” where many American Impressionists painted landscape en plein-air, and artists in residence still to this day go to master their art.
Carlsen’s work was poetic over detail. It has been said that he “bleached” his paintings to give them the soft harmonies in his palettes. He struggled financially most of his career to make ends meet and not until the last part of his career was he able to paint without struggles. He and his wife Luela Mary Ruby married in 1896 and the couple moved into his 59th Street studio, where they made their home for the remainder of their lives. They had a single child, Dines Carlsen in 1901 who was home schooled. His mother taught him scholastic subjects and his father instructed him in art. Dines Carlsen began his own exhibition career in 1914, exhibiting a still life at the National Academy of Design when he was thirteen. Dines Carlsen was made an Associate National Academician in 1922, when he was 21, and a full Academician in 1942. Dines Carlsen exhibited alongside his father at the Grand Central Galleries in New York. He had three solo exhibitions at that gallery. After Dines Carlsen died in 1966, Grand Central Galleries held a dual retrospective exhibition to honor both artists. Carlsen was close friends with Julian Alden Weir, John Twachtman and Childe Hassam, three of the leading American Impressionists painters of that time period.
A few of America’s leading representational painters today were influenced by Carlsen. Dan Pinkham of California/Idaho and Clyde Aspevig of Montana are both admirers of him, and many, many more.
Carlsen’s work can be seen in these public collections:
National Academy of Design, New York, NY
San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, CA
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
Brigham Young University Museum of Art, Provo, UT
Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN
Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, Laurel, MS
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA