American artist and one of the founding members of the Taos Society of Artists, Ernest Leonard Blumenschein, was born in 1874 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His mother passed away while he was very young. He had originally focused on following his father’s footsteps with music. Blumenschein’s father was the director of the Dayton Philharmonic in Ohio and Ernest Blumenschein attended the Cincinnati College of Music to study the violin. Later he enrolled at the Cincinnati Art Academy to study illustration which shifted his focus from music to art. He also went to Europe and studied art at the Académie Julian in 1894.
In 1896, Blumenschein began working as an illustrator in New York and was assigned early on to travel out west to Arizona and New Mexico. It was in the spring of 1898 while en route to Mexico that the trip was halted by an accident with a broken wagon wheel near Taos, New Mexico that changed the course of Ernest Blumenschein’s life. He decided to remain in Taos. He set up a studio and began to paint the landscape and the Pueblo and Navajo Indian peoples.
Blumenschein returned to New York to continue his illustrating career. He also worked as a teacher at the Art Students League of New York. In 1910, he and his wife began spending their summer’s in Taos and by 1919 decided to permanently reside there. Ernest Blumenschein helped co-found the Taos Society of Artists and he also became a member of The New Mexico Painters. His work can be viewed at numerous locations nationwide including the Eiteljorg Art Museum in Indianapolis, Indiana, the El Paso Art Museum in Texas, as well as the Taos Art Museum and the Harwood Art Museum in Taos, New Mexico and the Museum of Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Ernest Blumenschein is one of the Southwest’s best-known painters of pueblo Indian genre.