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Ernest Leonard Blumenschein (American, 1874-1960)


Birth Place: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


Who is painter Ernest Blumenschein?

Ernest Blumenschein was an American realist painter and a founding member of the Taos Society of Artists. His work focused mainly on the native Americans of New Mexico and the surrounding American Southwest. While he is best known for his time in New Mexico, this happened late in Blumenschein’s life. He was an extensively trained and academic painter, with decades of training in some of the best schools in New York and Paris.

It would be his time in Taos that would put him on the map. While there he would experiment with his technique and style, completing large projects like Apache Country and Arizona Dam, multi-decade works that encompassed his entire focus for much of the 20th century. His work is now in the collection of many famed institutions including the MoMA, the Smithsonian, and several others. He won several awards in his lifetime and was a full member of the National Academy of Design.

What kind of art does Ernest Blumenschein make?

Ernest Blumenschein painted realist portraits and landscapes that typically featured the Native Americans of the American Southwest. During his time in Taos, his style made several notable changes -- moving from an illustrative approach to something that eventually morphed into what we know now as later-modernist. This post-impressionist approach garnered him several national awards as well as a huge audience of fans -- both in the commercial and critical art worlds. His work was beautiful, bright, and often had extremely dense pigment because of his obsession with painting a piece over and over again. He is perhaps best known as a founder of the famed Taos Art Colony Society of Artists. He divided his time between Taos and New York so that he could teach at the Art Students League of New York City.

How did painter Ernest Blumenschein get started?

Ernest Blumenschein was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to a family of musicians. In fact, as a youth Blumenschein pursued music. He attended the College of Music and Art Academy in Pittsburgh, then later studied at the Art Students League in New York. He was good enough to get a job as a violinist for the New York Symphony in 1894, playing under renowned composer and conductor Antonin Dvorak. In 1895, he decided to switch career paths, studying art at the Julian Academy in Paris. It was there he learned about Taos from fellow artists Joseph Henry Sharp and Bert Phillips. He moved to Taos in 1898, first because of an assignment from McClure’s magazine to sketch the southwest. During this trip his wagon wheel broke and, seemingly on a whim, Blumenschein decided to make Taos his home. He would stay there, splitting time between Taos and New York, until his death over 60 years later.

How much are Ernest Blumenschein’s paintings worth?

An Ernest Blumenschein painting can be worth anywhere from a few thousand dollars to almost five hundred thousand for a major work. That said, the most ever paid for an Ernest Leonard Blumenschein piece is $1,538,500 for the painting White Blanket and Blue Spruce (1919) which sold on May 19th, 2011. This is considered an outlier, as Blumenschein’s next five highest paintings are all around the $400,000 range. That said, Blumenschein is a luminary and one of the founders of the Taos Art Colony, and his paintings will reflect that value. He is a valuable addition to any collection.

Where to buy Ernest Blumenschein paintings for sale?

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How to value Ernest Blumenschein paintings?

The best way to value art is to compare past auction prices for similar works. View past sale prices below. When you’re ready to sell, contact Heritage Auctions to request an auction estimate of the likely selling price at auction. If you need a formal written appraisal for estate planning or insurance, please contact our Appraisal Services Department.

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