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 Theodore Van Soelen  (1890 - 1964)

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Lived/Active: New Mexico/Minnesota      Known for: southwest landscape, genre, history and portrait painting

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Ad Code: 3
Theodore Van Soelen
from Auction House Records.
Farmyard
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Theodore Van Soelen had a highly distinguished career in both the Eastern and Southwestern United States.  His specialty was ranch scenes done in a realistic illustrator style, but he also became a noted landscape and portrait painter with enough illustrator style to be termed a realist but tempered by rearrangement of compositional elements.

He began his art training as a student at the St. Paul Institute of Arts and Sciences from 1908-1911 and then studied for four years at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. From that institution, he won a Cresson Traveling Scholarship for travel and study in Europe in 1913 and 1914.

Because of tuberculosis, he went West to Utah and Nevada and in 1916 to Albuquerque where he worked as a commercial illustrator and began selling his first paintings.  Wanting to get a better understanding of the Indian and cattlemen's way of life, he lived in towns and ranches throughout the state and spent a year at San Ysidero's Indian Trading Post.

During that time, the Cincinnati Art Museum held a one-man exhibition of his work, which brought him some national attention.

He married Virginia Carr, and in 1922, they, having traveled throughout the West, moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico and in 1926 became permanent residents of that state in Tesuque. But he had a strong enough market for his western paintings in the East that in the 1930s, he established a second studio in Cornwall, Connecticut.

He was elected a National Academician at the National Academy of the Arts in New York City and continued to exhibit in the East including at the National Academy, the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, and the Chicago Art Institute.

At the same time, he was active in New Mexico, completing numerous paintings of scenes from that state and a mural in 1938 for the Post Office in Portales, New Mexico. In 1960, he was named Honorary Fellow in Fine Arts by the School of American Research of the Santa Fe Museum.

Biography from Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery Santa FeTucson:
A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, Van Soelen trained in art at the St. Paul Institute from 1908 to 1911, and then attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, 1911-1915. The Pennsylvania Academy awarded Van Soelen a Cresson Traveling Scholarship which enabled him to tour and study in Europe in 1913 and 1914.

Shortly after launching his art career back in the United States, Van Soelen headed west, seeking relief from tuberculosis. After spending time in Utah and Nevada, he settled in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1916. Working as a commercial illustrator, he also began to sell his fine art paintings. To acquaint himself with the people and landscapes of New Mexico, Van Soelen spent time in the small towns and ranches of the region. Early on, scenes of ranch life became his favorite subjects.

Van Soelen married Virginia Carr in 1922 and the couple moved to Santa Fe before permanently settling in nearby Tesuque, New Mexico in 1926. Van Soelen's reputation grew rapidly throughout this time, but like other New Mexico's easel painters, most of his customers were in the East. In the 1930s he established a second studio in Cornwall, Connecticut to be closer to that market.

Van Soelen painted in a detailed, realistic style with a slightly muted palette and strong draftsmanship. Though most famous for his ranch-life genre paintings, he also painted landscapes and formal portraits, and produced several popular lithographs on cowboy themes.

In 1938 Van Soelen won a mural commission for the Post Office in Portales, New Mexico. He was a Fellow of the National Academy and exhibited in various juried exhibitions including the National Academy, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Chicago Art Institute. In 1960 he was named Honorary Fellow in Fine Arts by the School of American Research.

Biography from Nedra Matteucci Galleries:
Born in St.Paul, Minnesota, Theodore Van Soelen had a highly distinguished career in both the eastern and southwestern United States.  His favorite subject matter was ranch scenes executed in a realistic illustrator style, and he also became a noted landscape and portrait painter.

Van Soelen began his art training at the St. Paul Institute of Arts and Sciences from 1908 to 1911 and then studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. From that institution, he won a Cresson Traveling Scholarship for study in Europe in 1913 and 1914.

Upon his return and as a result of tuberculosis, he went west in 1916 to Albuquerque, New Mexico where he worked as a commercial illustrator and began selling his first paintings.  To further his understanding of the Indian culture and cattlemen’s way of life, he lived in towns and ranches throughout the state and spent a year at San Ysidro’s Indian Trading Post.

During that time, the Cincinnati Art Museum held a one-man exhibition of his work, which received national attention.

He married Virginia Carr, and in 1922, after traveling throughout the West, they moved to Santa Fe and then in 1926, they became permanent residents of neighboring Tesuque.  In the 1930’s, he had developed a strong market for his western paintings in the East, so he established a second studio in Cornwall, Connecticut.

He was elected a National Academician and continued to exhibit in the East including at the National Academy, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and the Chicago Art Institute.

He remained active in New Mexico, completing numerous, vivid landscapes and a mural in 1938 for the post office in Portales, New Mexico. In 1960 he was named Honorary Fellow in Fine Arts by the School of American Research in Santa Fe.


Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, VII:
Born: St. Paul, MN 1890
Died: Santa Fe, NM 1964

Western painter, lithographer, illustrator, muralist, writer

Van Soelen was a student of the St. Paul Institute 1908-11. He studied at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art 1911-15, following which he began work as an artist. Because of tuberculosis he went to the Utah-Nevada mountains, then in 1916 to Albuquerque where he worked as a commercial illustrator. In 1920-21, he lived at San Ysidro’s Indian trading post to gain experience with the land and its inhabitants. He had a one-man exhibition at the Cincinnati Art Museum. In 1922 Van Soelen moved to Santa Fe, then in 1926 became a permanent resident of neighboring Tesuque.

Her exhibited with the New Mexico Painters society, which combined the best of Taos and Santa Fe. He retained his own illustrators style with its apparent realism. Like Thomas Moran he freely reassembled compositional elements to depict the allure of New Mexico: “If reproductions of Van Soelen pictures were used on railway time-tables, the trains to Santa Fe, Taos, etc would be far more crowded than they are at present.”

His specialty was ranch scenes but he also painted landscapes objectively as well as many official portraits. By the 1930s, the demand for his paintings was large enough in the East to permit him to establish a second studio in Connecticut, although his affiliations remained in New Mexico. In addition, he wrote for Field and Stream.

Resource: SAMUELS’ Encyclopedia of ARTISTS of THE AMERICAN WEST,
Peggy and Harold Samuels, 1985, Castle Publishing


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Theodore Van Soelen is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Taos Pre 1940

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