Emil Carlsen1853 - 1932
Born: October 19, 1853, Copenhagen, Denmark
Died: January 2, 1932, New York, New York
After studying architecture in his native Denmark at Copenhagen's Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi, Emil Carlsen (born Soren Emil Carlsen) immigrated to the United States just before his twentieth birthday in 1872 to become a painter. He moved to Chicago to study under fellow Dane, painter Lauritz Holtz, in 1874, and continued his study in Paris for six months of 1875, enrolling at the Academie Julien before financial trouble forced him to leave.
Preferring to enter the educational system instead of seeking to become an independent artist after this time, Carlsen accepted a teaching position at the Chicago Academy of Design (which, incidentally, soon became the Art Institute of Chicago, by 1882) upon his return to America. With his great interest in the work of French artist Jean-Simeon Chardin (1699-1779), Carlsen returned to Paris in 1884 to study that master for two years. Upon his next return Stateside, Carlsen moved to San Francisco to become the next director of the California School of Design, continuing to paint his signature still life images after Chardin. While in California, he kept in contact with several fellow artists he had come to know during an earlier stay in New York City; he taught his students about Augustus Saint-Gaudens, J. Alden Weir, and John LaFarge, and also allowed these artists to influence his own personal style.
Around 1891, Carlsen returned to New York because sales opportunities for his work were better there, and he had tired of the long hours his teaching position required. He would settle permanently in New York after this point, but his still-life images were so popular and successful that he exhibited throughout the country, returning several times to San Francisco. Elected to the National Academy of Design in 1906, where he had been exhibiting with regularity since 1885, Carlsen also showed at the San Francisco Art Association between 1890 and 1897. 1904's Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri and the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915 in San Francisco also featured Carlsen's work. Carlsen passed away in 1932 in New York nine years after being the subject of a major retrospective at Washington DC's Corcoran Gallery of Art.