Johann Berthelsen


Johann Berthelsen


Washington Square Park

Oil on Canvas on Board

16 x 12 inches

Signed Lower Right

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Johann Berthlesen (1883-1972)

When he was 18, Berthelsen studied music and voice for four years at the Chicago Musical College.

Following his graduation, he toured the United States and Canada as lead baritone for the Grand Opera Company, after which he taught voice - first as his alma matter and then at the Indianapolis Conservatory of Music.  In 1920, Berthelsen opened a private studio in New York City where he gave voice lessons.  Although, he devoted most of his time to singing and music, Berthelsen painted - at first for his own pleasure and then, after 1932, on a full-time basis.  His work was judged "poetic" by contemporary critics.  It is fascinating when people are good at what they do… but to master more than one art is quite incredible. The same poetry of music is beautifully represented in his paintings.

Johann Berthelsen's paintings of New York City are his signature works.  The combination of bright colors of urban life with flickering snowfall and the city's massive architecture are tremendously successful examples of the genre.  Initially, Berthelsen established his artistic reputation with his work in pastels, but having achieved success as a pastelist, he then turned his attention to oils. 

The fundamentals of drawing were necessary in order to discover a technique appropriate to working in oil, and Berthelsen used a heavy impasto to render his city and park snow scenes.  Working with small canvases, he found inspiration in New York's Central Park, rendering this setting most effectively in its seasonal transformations.  He painted similar scenes of Chicago.


Salmagundi Club

American Watercolor Society

Allied American Artists