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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dines Carlsen, American Impressionist Painter

Dines Carlsen, son of renowned artist Soren Emil Carlsen, painted sensitive, impressionistic still life depictions, portraits, and landscape series, especially of the American Southwest. Trained in the visual arts by his father, Dines Carlsen’s talent was evident early in his life; at the age of fourteen, the National Academy held an exhibition of his work, and in his eighteenth and twenty-second years of life, he was honored with the Julius Hallgarten Prize. Emblematic of other painters working in the American impressionist tradition, Carlsen’s work finds resonance with Richard J. Boyle’s assessment of the genre: “Despite the lively impressionist technique, a mood of quietness persists…” (Boyle 230). One may certainly find evidence of this “quietness” in this contemplative and masterful self-portrait.

(located at MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.)

Dines Carlsen’s varied oeuvre includes sensitive treatment of both domestic life and rich Southwestern landscapes. His subtle portraits typify impressionism and are enhanced with American sentiment; “American impressionism was always less robust than its French counterpart. It was more delicate and, in some cases more poetic…” (Boyle 214). In a sense, Carlsen brings impressionist “feeling” to the locus of American realism; as Donaldson Hoopes articulates:

American impressionism… has no real center. Unlike its French counterpart, the American impressionist painter rarely associated with groups… While impressionism undoubtedly added another facet to American art, at no time did it ever threaten to eclipse the central motive force of American art, namely, realism (Hoopes 8).

(located at MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.)

With impressionistic, painterly strokes, Carlsen’s quiet homage to his mother portrays the human figure awash in light. The central still life objects, grouped upon the table, dominate the foreground, and evoke the sense of the eternal; the relationship between the figure of the mother and the large white vase particularly suggests the sense of the transmutation of the fleeting human form as it is immortalized through art—here in the form of the white vase, and indeed in the portrait itself. Pondering the relationship between the otherworldly light cast about the figure of the mother, and the solid, unmovable quality of the still life objects, we find the overarching relationships within impressionism itself; quoting Fritz Novotny, “The watchword of impressionism is that light is something higher than matter, that light is freedom, matter captivity” (Boyle 229).

In the New York Times article “Art; American Impressionism Dazzles,” David L. Shirey comments upon Carlsen’s poignant use of still life objects: “Dines Carlsen creates a very personal form of impressionism in his still lifes of pitchers and bowls” (Shirey “Art”). In fact, the collection in MIR Gallery includes not only many of Carlsen’s quiet masterpieces, but also several of his original objects featured in many of his still lifes. For example, our collection includes the Chinese bronze piece featuring the body of a lion, immortalized in the painting Still Life with Chinese Vase.

Still Life with Chinese Vase

Chinese bronze
(located at MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.)


MIR Appraisal Services also has in its collection the glass bottles featured in such paintings as Samovar.

Carlsen's bottles
(Located at MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.)

Dines Carlsen, while he considered the stillness of the domestic scene and the contemplative life of its subjects, also fixed his gaze upon the grand, at times austere, landscape of the American Southwest.

(Located at MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.)

In Santa Prisca en La Tarda, which depicts the Santa Prisca and San Sebastian Church in Taxco, Mexico, we can witness the “representation and expression of an overall light and atmosphere” as central to Carlsen’s paintings, and as the “common concern” of the American impressionists in general (Boyle 229).

Santa Prisca en La Tarda
(Located at MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.)

Dines Carlsen’s soft focus centered about both the inner-realm of the human psyche, as in his striking self-portrait and in the portrait of his mother, and the vast landscapes of the Southwest.

In the seemingly divergent subject matter of domestic portraits and rather sublime landscape paintings, we may still recognize a common motif—the reflective, quiet life of the human interior as it confronts the outer realm; in this way, Dines Carlsen’s paintings can be characterized by what Boyle identifies as the central atmosphere of American impressionism: “The somewhat abstract and austere silence, the delicacy and nuance, the mood of isolation, of quiet musing…” (Boyle 230).

Jessica Savitz
MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.
307 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 308

Chicago, IL 60601
Phone: (312) 814-8510

Note: MIR Gallery, an online division of MIR Art Appraisal Services, Inc., has an extensive collection of the works of Dines Carlsen, an American Master. To inquire about an item or our appraisal services, please email: or call (312) 814-8510.


Boyle, Richard J. American Impressionism. New York: New York Graphic Society, Ltd., 1974.

Dearinger, David Bernard. Painting and Sculpture in the Collection of National Academy of Design. Manchester: Hudson Hills Press, 2004.

Hoopes, Donaldson F. The American Impressionists. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 1972.

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    Welcome to our blog site! MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. is a fine art and personal property appraisal company dedicated to serving clients throughout the United States and abroad since our incorporation in Chicago in 1994. We specialize in the multi-faceted field of appraising fine art, jewelry, antiques, and decorative items. We also provide professional fine art restoration and conservation treatment for various media, including but not limited to, artworks on canvas, board, masonite, and paper. We offer professional and precise appraisal services carried out by our team of accredited appraisers for the purposes of insurance coverage and claims, charitable donations, estate planning and probate, equitable distribution and fair-market value. We started our art commentary blog site as a venue for colleagues and fellow art enthusiasts to share their experiences within the art community.