Sign on
gPowered byeMuseum

Ernest L. Blumenschein, Deserted Mining Camp

The large looming forms of a mountainside fill most of the canvas. In the upper lefthand corner clouds and a blue sky make up the distance beyond the rocky formations. There is a great sense of depth conveyed with the sky behind the forms and the different shadows that fall across the uneven surfaces. The foreground is bright with colors or red, orange and green, Small man made structures crumble from neglect, looking insignificant compared to the expanse of rocky hillside that exists beyond. A figure ridding a donkey is also in the foreground, but there is little detail to explain who they are and you’re left to fill in the gaps of the story yourself.

- Maranda Nieman

Ernest L. Blumenschein
Ernest Blumenschein, American artist, was a colorful and controversial figure whose character was marked by fierce determination. A supporter of Post-Impressionism, Ernest Blumenschein’s own style is marked by the use of deep, rich colors and a strict sense of spatial geometry and rhythm. Possibly the most complex and least understood member of the TaosSociety, Ernest L Blumenschein’s southwestern pictures were born of the artist’s interest in formal integrity and harmony rather than a desire to accurately portray pueblo culture.

Similar to several of his later Taos colleagues, Ernest Blumenschein was of modest Midwesterner beginnings. He was born inPittsburgh, PA and earned a scholarship to study at the Cincinnati College of Music after graduating from high school. He took an illustration class at the Cincinnati Art Academy and decided to pursue a career in the visual arts. In 1892, he moved to New York to study at the Art Students League. He soon became convinced that European study was necessary to establish himself as a professional artist and enrolled at the Academie Julian in Paris, where he became acquainted with Bert Phillips and J.H. Sharp. Sharp regaled the younger artists with tales of his 1893 visit to Taos.

Upon his return from Paris in 1896, Blumenschein worked as an illustrator in New York, where he shared a studio with Phillips. After and assignment that took him to Arizona and New Mexico, Blumenschein went west with Phillips in 1898. When a broken wagon wheel landed the artists in the nearby town of Taos, Phillips decided he had reached the end of his journey.

Blumenschein stayed in Taos for 3 months returning to his lucrative illustration career in New York and eventually to Paris for further study at the Academie Julian in 1899. During his stay in New York he met Mary Green and married her. She was an established artist whose work was often featured in the annual Salon.

After their return to New York in 1909, the couple worked as an illustration team and Blumenschein taught at the Art Students League. He began to spend his summers in Taos, New Mexico, and settled there permanently in 1919.

Deserted Mining Camp, c.1940
oil painting, canvas
Overall: 27 1/16 x 33 1/4 in. (68.7 x 84.5 cm)
Gift of Helen Greene Blumenschein