Maiden illustration by Carle Blenner
This original oil on canvas painting by the German - American portrait artist and illustrator Carle Blenner shows a flushed and erotically charged image of a brunette Victorian maiden. This work is beautifully executed--the subject's gaze is mesmerizing, her skin tones are spectacular, and we love the stylish hair pin at the top of her forehead which evokes a Mucha girl. We have not identified the usage of this work. It was likely created as calendar art or beer advertising, but it could have been a fine art portrait for a wealthy patron to immortalize a lover. The painting is handsomely framed in a period plaster ornate cream colored frame and is a very good state of original conservation.
This illustration comes from the collection of esteemed illustration art collector Norman Platnick.
About the artist: Carle J. Blenner
Carle J. Blenner was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1864. He was educated at Marburg, Germany, and graduated from the Yale University Art School.
He studied for six years at the Academie Julien in Paris, under Bouguereau, Robert-Fleury, and Aman-Jean. He first exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1887, at age 23, and for the next three years. His first exhibitions in the United States were in New York, and these commenced around 1889. From the 1890s, he maintained a working studio on 57th Street in New York City for more than 50 years.
Blenner's talent was recognized in the United States early on, as two of his paintings were selected for exhibition at the important 1893 Chicago World's Fair Columbian Exposition. He also exhibited regularly at the National Academy of Design and won their prestigious Hallgarten Prize in 1899. Additionally, Blenner won a medal in Boston in 1891, a medal at the Pan Am Expo in 1901, a medal at the St. Louis Expo in 1904, a medal in Charleston, South Carolina, and won prizes in Springfield, Massachusetts and in New Haven, Connecticut in 1932.
The early years for Blenner were also his most successful commercially, as he was in high demand as a portraitist of the wealthy, titled and famous-- particularly women. His subjects included Lady Hamilton, granddaughter of the Duke of Cambridge; Mrs. Raymond White, Lady Chetwynde; and Madame Nordica, Isabel Irving and Evelyn Nesbitt of the theater. His male portraits were of such personalities as the Duke of Cambridge, the Earl of Yarmouth, Richard Henning and Henry Clay Pierce.
From about 1915, Blenner turned to still-life studies of flowers, and he continued to reap awards for these and other works--the last in 1932. His florals reflect his superb training. However, his own sense of textures and his superior use of pigment in the service of light create not only unlabored representations, but revelations of the flowers' essence.
Blenner was a member of several prominent art clubs and organizations including, the American Federation of Artists, the Greenwich Academy of Fine Arts, the Greenwich Art Association, the New Haven Paint and Clay Club, the Newport Art Association, Rhode Island, the Salmagundi Club, New York City, and the Washington Arts Club, Washington, D.C. His works can be found in the permanent collection of many American Art Museums.
Blenner died in New Haven, Connecticut in 1952.
The Legacy of Norman Platnick
In his New York Times obituary, Norman Platnick’s son Will said that his father had three passions in life, his wife Nancy, spiders, and collecting.
Few individuals have the chance to leave a mark like Norm’s in even one field, let alone two. But Norm managed to be both a celebrated scientist, and one of the most influential lay historians of illustration art.
Under his imprint Enchantment Ink, Norm researched, wrote, and published collectors guides to artists like Rolf Armstrong and Earl Christy. We at Grapefruit Moon Gallery rely on these books in our work, and they are now all freely available as PDFs through the Enchantment Ink website.
Norm’s expertise was a gift, his friendship was a treasure, and his legacy is immeasurable. He is missed.