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Johann Henrik Carl Berthelsen (July 25, 1883 – April 3, 1972); prominent and prolific American Impressionist painter and professional singer and voice teacher. Essentially self-taught as an artist, he is best known for his poetic paintings of New York City, often in snow.
Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, the 7th of 7 sons born to Conrad and Dorothea Karen Berthelsen. His father was a tenor with the Royal Opera and his mother was a nurse. Following his parents' divorce in 1890, his mother brought the children to America, joining her sister in Manistee, Michigan. Soon they settled in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
Johann developed an early interest in singing, acting, drawing, and painting. He dropped out of school after the 5th grade and worked in various jobs. He moved to Chicago at 18, planning to pursue a career in theater. A friend who was studying voice at the Chicago Musical College encouraged him to pursue singing. Upon auditioning at the school, Berthelsen was offered a full scholarship. While a student there he won two gold medals.
...With the Great Depression Berthelsen lost his voice students.... A fellow artist suggested painting in oils, which he began to do, and he had gradually increasing success in selling his canvases. In the mid-1930s he was also involved in several New Deal art projects. He joined the Salmagundi Club in 1935 and remained a member until his death.
... his most popular canvases represented NYC scenes. They were collected by prominent figures including William Randolph Hearst, Richard E. Berlin, Frank Sinatra, Ethel Merman and Dinah Shore.
...In 1971 he was hit by a car, which led to a decline in health and ultimately his death the following year.
Today, in Central Park near the very spot where he painted one of his favorite scenes, a memorial park bench is dedicated to his memory.