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 Holger W. Jensen  (1880 - 1943)

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Lived/Active: Illinois / Denmark      Known for: seasonal landscape painting, interiors, sculpture

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following biographical data and exhibition notes are courtesy of Bob Constant, December 2003.  His sources are Painters and Sculptors in Illinois 1808-1945, from the Chicago Public Library Artists Archive and Sandra Stukenberg of the Oregon Illinois Library.

Holger W. Jensen was born near Copenhagen, Denmark in 1880 and died in Grand Detour, Illinois in 1943.  He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and Smith's Art Academy, Chicago.  He lived in Dixon, Illinois, and he was a member of the Palette & Chisel Club of Chicago, the Austin-Oak Park-River Forest (AOPRF) Art League, and the Chicago Painters and Sculptors Club.

From 1915 to 1942 he participated some 22 times at Palette and Chisel exhibitions and he received a gold medal award in 1934.  He was a frequent exhibitor at AOPRF exhibitions where he received a silver medal in 1929.  He also exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago* four times, the Chicago Galleries Association (medal in 1930) and in several cities in the Mid-west.

His works are in the collections of public schools in Chicago, River Forest and Gary, Indiana.

(Some references state that he was born in 1880 and others in 1881 and others in 1878.  Since he was born in Denmark perhaps there were no accurate records of his date of birth.  I think 1880 is a reasonable date to choose.  His death record in 1943 does not give his age).

Shown below is the information I received from the Chicago Public Library regarding Jensen.  From the titles of his exhibited paintings it can be seen that his "genre" was landscapes.  I have seen some of his works and he specialized in fall and winter scenes. His style can be classified as "realism".

One of his paintings titled The Back Way or Oldest House in Grand Detour (IL) is in the Oregon, IL Public Library.  On December 16, 2003, Sandra Stukenberg of the Oregon Library provided the following information to Bob Constant, and she credits an Eagle's Nest Art Colony Collection booklet put out by the Arts Alliance of Ogle County in 1982:

Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, Jensen immigrated to the United States at the age of 8.  He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and at Smith's Academy.  In 1924 he started exhibiting his work at the Art Institute and other Chicago and suburban galleries.  In 1928 he had a one-man exhibition at the Palette and Chisel Club.  His entry in the Chicago Galleries Association Exhibition in 1930 was awarded a prize.  His painting titled The Night Prowler was included in the home planning exhibit of the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago.  The Palette and Chisel Club awarded him the gold medal in 1934 and in 1935 he had a one-man exhibition at the Rockford Art Association.

Some of his works are in the collections of the public schools of Chicago and River Forest, Illinois, and Gary, Indiana.  Jensen lived at various times in Chicago, River Forest and Dixon, Illinois.

Following are the Holder Jensen exhibition listings and other notes from the Palette and Chisel Club.  The source is the Chicago Public Library Artists Archive. (P&C stands for Palette and Chisel Club)

1915 May P&C Exhibition - listed with landscapes

1923 P&C Small Painting Auction - #37 "The Mill Stream" - #113 "Fish
Creek" , #114 "Lake Superior"

1926 Apr, Chicago Galleries. - H. Jensen - one of the awards

1927 P&C AOPRF Show - "New York Farms"

1927 'P&C Newsletter' article on Jensen (on microfilm at AIC) - also "Eagle Cliff Ledge" at Illinois Academy of FA

1927 P&C 33 rd Annual Exhib - Listed

1927 Chicago Galleries Assn. - "New York State Farms" (a winter scene")

1927 Chicago and Vicinity Show - "Sand Point"

1927 Listed on P&C Exhibition Committee

1928 Listed on P&C Exhibition Committee (chairman)

1928 34 the Annual Exhib - #30 "The Old Rock Crusher"

1928 P&C Show Chicago Galleries Assn. - "The Settler's Cabin"

1928 Chicago Artists at AIC - "New York Farms" - " Old Rock Crusher"

1928 March, 'P&C Newsletter' - 'Jensen show at P&C - Near By Scenes -
"Lake Superior" - "Wisconsin Scene" and "Kentucky Scene"

1928 Illinois Acad. FA Springfield Museum - "The Hills of Galena"

1929 P&C Water Color Drawings and Etchings - #16 "Mountain in Winter"

1928 or 9 P&C Small Picture Auction - #8 "Grandpa's Cottage" - #26
"Fishing Shacks" - #96 "The Daisy Fields"

1929 Illinois Academy of FA - "New York Farms"

1929 June, Chicago Gallery Show - "Mississippi River Bluffs"

1930 P&C Water Color Show - "Great Smokies" - "Road in the Smokies" - " Along the Mississippi" - "Mission Gate"

1930 Chicago Galleries, about 20 paintings - "Carolina in the Morning" - "Early Morning" - "The Ice Bound River" - "Boat Houses At Grand Detour"

1930 36 the Annual P&C Exhibition - "Autumnal Tapestry"

1930 AOPRF Art League - "The Old Mill"

1931 31 st Annual P&C Exhibition - #25 "Near San Antonio Texas"

1931 P&C Water Color Show - "Into the Valley" - "Tennessee Homestead"

1931 Artists of Chicago & Vicinity - "The Back Way" - "A Wet Day"

1931 AOPRF Art League - Jensen listed with a landscape

1931 Chicago Galleries Assn. - "Under Texas Skies"

1931 P&C Small Picture Auction - "The Hikers"

1931 Chicago Galleries Assn., Jensen listed with a landscape with goat grazing

1932 P&C 38 th Annual - #24 "The Old Courtyard"

1936 P&C Auction - "The Old Kentucky Home"

1938 P&C Auction - #11 Mt. Grey and Lock' - #38 "On the Rock River" - #45 "A Desert Mood"

1938 P&C Show " Just Before the Snow Flies"

1940 P&C Exhibition-#23 "Snowtime in Grand Detour" - #45 - (?) - #32
"Carolina Homestead" - #35 - (?) - #33 "Hills of Santa Barbara " - (one more painting, # and name unknown)

1942 P&C Annual - #23 "October's Grey and Gold" - #150- (?)

1945 P&C 50 the Anniversary at AIC - #50 "South of the Border"

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Holger Jensen was born in Denmark on January 6, 1880, and came to the United States at the age of 6 years.  He lived in Portland, Oregon, until moving to Oak Park, Illinois, where he was Art Director for Montgomery Ward Catalogs.  The artists in his department did pen and ink and wash drawings of all merchandise because in the 1920’s and 1930’s photography was not yet used.

Holger planned his retirement to Grand Detour very carefully, and was the first artist to make Grand Detour his year-around home.  He and his wife, Agnes, who did not have any children, moved to Grand Detour in 1929.  They were attracted by the scenic beauty of the area and the quaint old New England style village.  He loved the activities of the Rock River and the rolling countryside, so he built his home overlooking the river.

Those who knew Holger say that he was very content to live in the village and on the river that was the subject of many of his paintings.  It was said that he painted the “wettest water” of any artist.

He sketched while traveling extensively in the Southwest and Mexico, and then painted these landscapes when he returned home.  His oil painting On the Road to Elainore, sketched in California, was accepted by the judges of the All Illinois Society of Fine Arts for the annual exhibition opening in the Stevens Hotel Gallery.

He received the Art League Silver Medal in 1929, the Chicago Galleries Association Prize in 1930, and the Palette and Chisel Gold Medal in 1934.  Collections of his works are in the public schools of Chicago, River Forest, Illinois, and Gary, Indiana.  Many in our area are the proud owners of Holger Jensen’s paintings.  His painting The Back Way or Oldest House in Grand Detour (IL) is in the Oregon, IL Public Library Gallery.

He was a member of the Painters & Sculptors Club in Chicago, the Oak Park Art League,  the Chicago Galleries, and the Palette and Chisel Club of Chicago.


Written by Duane Paulsen and submitted by Tom Shaw



This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following was submitted as a bulletin by the artist's great-niece:

Once he became established as a painter, his usual signature was Holger W. Jensen - printed in mixed case with a slight forward slant.   But I have Christmas card he designed and signed (after 1928) with a monogram that featured an H and a J placed together and formed in such a way as to suggest a W.   I also have a pair of ink drawings that are signed with a stylized H Jensen together with the year '97 and '96.   Some of the early paintings were not signed on the front, but on the back.   My grandmother had two of these from his art school days.   The penciled signature looks very like the usual painted one.

Recently, I came across a couple of small works (don't remember the medium) where the signature was "Jen '04".  They were among things left behind when my aunt died, so they were probably his.

I have a gouache signed "Holger W. Jensen" in the usual way that shows a winter scene with pines and a mountain.   He traveled and painted all over the country, but I know he returned to Portland at least once when his mother was ill in December, 1917.  The W stands for "Wentzel".   He signed his full name on the legal papers connected with the sale of the brown studio/home in Grand Detour, Illlinois.

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