Ernest Leonard Blumenschein

(1874 - 1960)

Biography

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Ernest L. Blumenschein was far and away the most well known of the Taos painters during his lifetime.

His painstakingly executed canvases, in his distinctive style that was first called “post-impressionist” and later modernist, garnered him a wide and appreciative audience, and numerous awards. His paintings today are held by the most important museum collections in the United States.

Blumenschein was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to parents of German descent, and raised in Dayton, Ohio. His father was a professional musician and composer, who chiefly made his living as a conductor of large choruses. The young Ernest excelled at music from the beginning, and his father had high hopes that he would follow his footsteps and become a professional. When Ernest showed an interest in art, his father only pushed him harder to stay devoted to music, feeling that was where his greatest talent lay.

At 17, Blumenschein won a scholarship to study at the Cincinnati College of Music. However, while studying music he also enrolled in classes at the Art Academy. He was soon convinced that his future career was to be that of an artist, and consequently moved to New York City to study painting at the Art Students League. However, he remained a tremendously talented musician, supporting himself by playing first violin in the New York Symphony.

The conductor at the time was none other than the world famous Czech composer, Anton Dvorak. Dvorak was apparently so impressed with the youngster that he appointed him first violin immediately after hearing him play a D minor scale. Few people would have given up a music career that was off to such a promising start (to say the least), but Blumenschein had made his decision.