Hendrik-Dirk Kruseman Van Elten
(1829 - 1904)

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Field Point, Greenwich, CT




Hendrik-Dirk Kruseman Van Elten was already an established landscapist in his native Holland before debuting on the American scene at the National Academy of Design in 1866. He rented a studio in the famed Tenth Street Studio Building for thirty-one years, during which time he continued to exhibit extensively at the National Academy and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. Working in the Tenth Street Studio Building gave Van Elten access to native-born artists more familiar with the regional landscape, and he counted among his friends Jervis McEntee (1828-1891) and James D. Smillie (1833-1909). Van Elten followed his colleagues into upstate New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the Litchfield Hills, and along the Long Island Sound shoreline. He gradually shed his identity as a European artist come to market foreign pictures to Americans in favor of being identified as a wholly American artist preoccupied by the varied splendors of the northeast (1).


Van Elten’s detailed landscapes frequently carried much of the Pre-Raphaelite tradition and he was celebrated specifically for his leaf detail. Though he complained to McEntee that sales were difficult in America and suffered a failed return to Holland in 1873, Van Elten participated in two of the great American exhibitions of the late nineteenth century – the 1876 Universal Exhibition in Philadelphia and the 1893 Colombian Exposition in Chicago. He was a member of the Royal Academies in Amsterdam and Rotterdam and was also a member of the American Society of Painters in Water Colors. In addition to his oil paintings, he achieved great fame as an etcher. After his death in 1904, the American Art Guild in New York held a landmark auction of his work in 1905.


1. Robert Michael Austin, Artists of the Litchfield Hills ( Waterbury: Mattatuck Museum, 2003), 17.





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