Friday, November 26, 2010

Axel Herstad "discovered" by Mrs. Frederick W Vanderbilt, 1894

My paternal great grandmother Fredrikka Herstad had an older brother named Axel Herstad who was born on 19 May 1868 in Hommelvik, Trondheim, Norway.
He was an artist.
A rather lengthy article appeared on November 27, 1894 in the New York Herald, the headline of which is above. This article explained that Axel was a sailor on a ship called the "Conqueror" when his artwork was noticed by Mrs. Frederick Vanderbilt (Louise Holmes Anthony Torrance). She decided to sponsor his art education and placed him in the studio of the successful New York artist Robert Reid (misspelled in the headline). The article is a wealth of information on Axel's life and, judging from it, his future sounds very promising. In 1895, he was living in Brooklyn and in 1896 married Helga Ihle there.  It is difficult to determine what happened next since by 1900, he is back living in Trondheim, Norway. Sadly, he is recorded as a steamboat driver in this census. What could have happened to his promising art career? The article mentions that his painting of Christiansand Harbor was then hanging in the Scandinavian Sailors' Home in Brooklyn, New York. I imagine, as his patron, Mrs. Vanderbilt must have also owned some of his artwork. I am hoping that one day I can track down one of his paintings and witness, with my own eyes, his talent that so impressed Mrs.Vanderbilt. How incredible that would be!

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