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Louis M. Eilshemius Portrait

Louis M. Eilshemius

Also Known as: Louis Eilshemius, Louis Michel Eilshemius, Louis Elshemus, Louis M. Elshemus, Louis Michel Elshemus, L. M. Eilshemius

Arlington, New Jersey 1864

New York, New York 1941

Photo Caption:
Milton Avery, Portrait of Louis M. Eilshemius, 1942, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Louis and Annette Kaufman 1976.40.

Luce Artist Quote

"Louis Michel Eilshemius, M.A., Educator, Ex-Actor, Amateur All Round Doctor, Mesmerist-Prophet and Mystic, Reader of Hands and Faces, Linguist of Five Languages, Graphologist, Dramatist (7 works), Short Story Writer and Novelettes (26 works), Humorist Galore . . . The most rapid master creator in 3 arts, Most Wonderful and Diverse painter of nude groups in the world. His middle name is 'Variety.'" The artist's calling card


Born in New Jersey, studied in Europe, 1873–81, settled in New York City. Idiosyncratic painter who called himself a "Transcendental Eagle of the Arts" but whose increasingly subjective pictures received little attention during his lifetime.

Charles Sullivan, ed American Beauties: Women in Art and Literature (New York: Henry N. Abrams, Inc., in association with National Museum of American Art, 1993)

Additional Biographies

Luce Artist Biography

Born into a wealthy family, Louis M. Eilshemius studied art in Germany and at the Art Students League in New York. Eilshemius's romantic landscapes were influenced by the French Barbizon and American Hudson River schools. He was active in New York at the same time as the painter Albert Pinkham Ryder and was greatly influenced by Ryder's somber, moonlit scenes. Like Ryder, Eilshemius suffered several professional and romantic rejections and became a recluse. He finally experienced success as an artist in 1917, when French artist Marcel Duchamp "discovered" him at the Society of Independent Artists exhibition in New York. Although hailed as a modern, visionary painter, Eilshemius's success appeared to fuel his peculiarities, and he abandoned painting in 1921.