Emil Carlsen


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Painter. As a leading American still life painter of the 1890s, he specialized in uncluttered, poetic arrangements of humble objects. Later attentive to aspects of impressionism and tonalism, he produced landscapes and seascapes that extended his interests in decorative form, subtle color harmonies, and lyric effects of light. He also painted portraits and figure compositions. Sören Emil Carlsen studied architecture in his native Copenhagen before emigrating in 1872 to Chicago. There he concentrated on painting for three years before returning to Europe. After a visit to Denmark, he studied for six months in Paris, where he first emulated the kitchen still lifes of eighteenth-century French painter Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin and his seventeenth-century Dutch precursors. After returning to the United States in 1876, Carlsen worked primarily in New York and Boston until 1884, when he headed back to Paris for two-years. Subsequently, following a short period in New York, in 1887 he moved to San Francisco. From 1891 he made his home in New York. After 1905, when he bought a residence at Falls Village in the Berkshire hills of Connecticut, he habitually summered there. Evoking the region, the late Connecticut Hillside (Art Institute of Chicago, 1920), with its pastel tones, soft patterning, and dreamy atmosphere, reflects his progression from an early somber realism toward delicacy and abstract form. He also painted elsewhere, particularly in Maine, and returned to Europe at intervals. By incorporating Asian artifacts in his still lifes, Carlsen occasionally contributed to the period's japonisme, but his son, painter Dines Carlsen (1901–66), focused on such works. He also produced landscapes. Born in New York, he studied painting with his father and began to exhibit professionally while still in his teens. He lived for many years at Falls Village but died in New York. He also maintained a residence in Summerville, South Carolina, and painted scenes from numerous locales throughout the Northeast, Southwest, and Mexico.

Subjects: Art.

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