Verso: Carte-de-visite photographer: H. G. DeBurlo, Philadelphia, PA
Charles Blauvelt was a notable portrait and genre painter in the United States during the mid-to-late nineteenth century. Born in New York City, Blauvelt came of age during the time when around 4 million immigrants came to the United States through the city during 1840-1860. As a result many of his genre paintings depict immigrants.
Living in New York, Blauvelt began training as an artist in 1844 at the National Academy of Design. He studied to be a portraitist and set up shop in New York City. However, by the mid-1850s he began focusing on painting genre scenes, especially those that depicted immigrants. The arrival of so many immigrants into the New York City ports provided Blauvelt with ample subject material. For instance, his The German Immigrant Inquiring His Way (1855) in the North Carolina Museum of Art depicts an old German soldier asking directions from an African-American woodchopper. Blauvelt first exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1847 and participated regularly in its annual exhibitions until 1868. In fact, a critic for the New York Herald in 1855 noted The German Immigrant in a review of the show and his genre scenes were quite popular and continued to bring the artist success.
In 1862 Blauvelt moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he exhibited in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts where he was elected as a member in 1864. However, by 1867 the artist moved back to New York City and then to Yonkers, New York. In 1872 he became a drawing instructor at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland where he remained on the faculty until 1898. In 1900 he died in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Blauvelt's portraits and genre paintings are held in collections all over the United States. His genre paintings that specialized in immigrants, poor people, and modest settings continue to be appreciated for the artist's skill in capturing atmosphere and environmental details.
Dearinger, David B., ed. Paintings and Sculpture in the Collection of the National Academy of Design. New York: Hudson Hills Press, 2004.
Henning, William T., Jr. Catalogue of the American Collection : Hunter Museum of Art, Chattanooga, Tennessee. Chattanooga, TN: Hunter Museum of Art, 1985.
Koke, Richard J., ed. American Landscape and Genre Paintings in
the New-York Historical Society : A Catalog of the Collection,
Including Historical, Narrative, and Marine Art. New York: New York Historical Society, 1982.