Ernest L. Blumenschein

Posted on December 17, 2023

Ernest Leonard Blumenschein (1874–1960) was an American artist and a prominent figure in the Taos art colony. He was born on May 26, 1874, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Blumenschein studied at the Art Students League in New York City and later in Paris at the Académie Julian. In 1898, while traveling with artist Bert Geer Phillips in their horse-drawn wagon, they had a fortuitous accident near Taos, New Mexico, when the wagon’s wheel broke. Stranded in Taos, both artists were captivated by the landscape and the local Native American and Hispanic cultures. This event marked the beginning of Blumenschein’s lifelong connection to the region.

Blumenschein became one of the founding members of the Taos Society of Artists in 1915, along with Phillips and other notable artists. The society aimed to promote the work of artists in the Taos area and bring attention to the unique qualities of the Southwestern landscape and its people.

Blumenschein was known for his paintings that captured the spirit of the American Southwest. He excelled in portraying the dramatic landscapes, vibrant colors, and the distinctive quality of light in the region. His work often featured scenes of Native American life, adobe architecture, and the rugged terrain surrounding Taos.

Apart from his contributions as a painter, Blumenschein also played a key role in establishing the Harwood Foundation in Taos, which later became the Harwood Museum of Art. This institution has been crucial in preserving and showcasing the works of the Taos Society of Artists.

Ernest L. Blumenschein’s art is part of numerous museum collections, and his legacy lives on as one of the leading figures in the development of American art in the early 20th century. He continued to paint and exhibit his work throughout his life and received recognition for his contributions to the art world. Blumenschein passed away on June 6, 1960, in Taos, leaving behind a lasting impact on the art community.

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