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 Charles L. H. Zellinsky  (1842 - 1905)

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: Animal, horse, and jockey painting

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Portrait of a horse in a stable
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
This following biography was researched, compiled, and written by Geoffrey K. Fleming, Director, Southold Historical Society, Southold, NY.

CHARLES L. H. ZELLINSKY (January 16, 1842 – January 1, 1905)

Animal, horse, and jockey painter.  Born in Braunschweig in the Duchy of Brunswick (located today in present day Germany), he came to America as a young boy.  He began his artistic career as a sign painter in New York City during the 1850s.  He entered at least one of his examples in the American Institute’s annual exhibition in 1857, where he received a “diploma” for his work as an apprentice sign maker.  At the time he was located at 363 Broadway, later locating his business to Livingston Street in Brooklyn, where he was known for his “fancy sign” work.  

During the United States Civil War, Zellinsky enlisting in August of 1862 in New York State Company A, 20th Volunteers, and saw action at Antietam, Fredericksburg, and at the battle of South Mountain, where he was wounded.  Following the conclusion of the war he joined the 14th N.Y.S. Regiment, where he served for many years as Captain of Company F.  He became a naturalized United States citizen in 1868.

At the close of the war Zellinsky took up animal painting, for which he became very well known.  He painted many of the famous racehorses of his day, including “Alaric,” “The Bard,” “Eolian,” “Favor,” “Hanover,” “Kingston,” “Proctor Knott,” and “Tremont,” and  became widely known in racing circles.  The best known breeders and owners of the day sought him out, and from them he received considerable patronage.  These included such notables as August Belmont (1813-1890), Michael F. Dwyer (1847-1906) and his brother, Philip J. Dwyer (1844-1917), and the noted trainer, William Lakeland.  

His work was praised in publications such as “Turf, Field, & Farm,” and his paintings included horse portraits in addition to “flat racing scenes” that depicted races that took place on courses located near New York City, including at the racetracks located at Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, and Jerome Park in the Bronx.  Zellinsky’s most ambitious painting, entitled “Ready for the Roundup,” which appears to have been begun in the later 1880s, depicted  “…a cattle king’s outfit to start from Utica, Montana Territory, for the Musselshell country, to round up their stock.  In it there are represented twenty-seven figures.”  The present (2013) location of this monumental work is unknown.

In addition to horses, Zellinsky is also known to have painted other animals as well as portraits of important jockeys of the late nineteenth century.  Several of his paintings were turned into popular lithographs by the noted printing house of Currier & Ives, including two of his paintings depicting “The Grand Racer Kingston”  and “Mr. August Belmont’s Potomac (Hamilton Up) & Masher (Bergen Up),” both of which were issued in 1891.

During the later part of his life, Charles Zellinsky was employed as postmaster of Flatbush, Brooklyn, Long Island, New York, under President Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901).  Following the 1892 election of Grover Cleveland (1837-1908), he was deposed from office, but found a position working for the Brooklyn city government.  Beginning around 1880, he resided in Flatbush on Fenimore Street with his wife Helen V. Zellinsky (1842-1905).  

Charles L. Zellinsky died on Sunday, the first of January 1905, at the age of sixty-two years, after suffering a heart attack while standing on the stoop of his home.   A service was held at the Masonic Temple on Flatbush Avenue, and he was buried in Brooklyn’s famous Greenwood Cemetery in section 187, lot 20022.  His wife died a few months later and was also interred the plot.

Zellinksy was not known to have exhibited his works at any major institutions during his lifetime.  His works are known to be in the following public collections:  National Museum of Racing, Saratoga Springs, New York;  Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute Museum, Williamstown, Massachusetts. The largest number of his works reside in private collections throughout the United States.

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