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Emil Carlsen, Ocean Moods
by Jeffrey Morseburg
   For Emil Carlsen the sea had transcendent meaning. As A Dane, growing up on the Baltic coast, the ocean was never far away, and it was a subject that he painted again and again. From the shores of his native Denmark to the coastline of the Pacific in California, to the rugged rocks of Maine or the sandy beaches of Cuba, he painted the sea and sky, the most elemental of subjects. 

     Carlsen's marines were in great demand and his ocean paintings were purchased for the collections of a number of major museums. He won several of the most prestigious awards in American art for his paintings of the sea. When surveys of American marine paintings were done in 1915 in Mentor magazine and in 1930 in the American Magazine of Art, Carlsen was one of the select group of artists that the writers chose to represent the greatest accomplishment in paintings of the sea.

     American artists have excelled at painting the sea, but in contrast to his predecessors Winslow Homer (1836-1910) and William Trost Richards (1833-1905), or his contemporaries Frederic Waugh (1861-1940), Paul Dougherty (1877-1947) or William Ritschel (1864-1949), Carlsen rarely depicted massive breakers crashing against the unforgiving rocks. Rather, as Eliot Clark pointed out, it was "the serenity of nature that is interpreted rather than its more dramatic and destructive manifestation."
"Coast of Maine"
35" x 40"
Oil on Canvas
(Private Collection)