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Edwin Howland Blashfield (American painter) 1848 – 1936

Edwin Blashfield was a leading nineteenth-century American muralist and a well known lecturer and art writer. He was born in New York City and initially studied engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He began his artistic education in Paris in 1867, at the studio of Léon Joseph Florentin Bonnat (1833–1922). He studied with Bonnat until 1880, then married and returned to New York in 1881. The artist's interest in mythology resulted in a prolific mural painting career that began in the late 1880s. One of his early murals was created for a dome in the Manufacturer's and Liberal Arts Building at Chicago's 1893 World Columbian Exposition. Other noted works include the painting of the cupola and dome collar for the main reading room of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress and murals in the Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and South Dakota State Capitols. Blashfield's murals adorn numerous churches, banks, libraries and government buildings. He also created the art for the front of the 1896 Two Dollar Bill. His images glorify Americans—including athletes, Revolutionary War heroes and scientific pioneers—often as toga-wearing ancients. Blashfield's interest in mythological subject matter is reflected in this portrait of an imaginary Greek musician. He is strumming a psaltery, an instrument that dates from about 3,000 BCE (they are mentioned in multiple Old Testament books). Psalteries were popular in Europe until about the 1500s, but fell from favor at the beginning of the Renaissance. In addition to being an accomplished artist, Edwin Blashfield wrote extensively about his travels in Europe and the Middle East and authored several books on art. He also served as President of the National Academy of Design, the National Institute of Arts and Letters and the Society of American Artists, and was a member of the Society of Mural Painters and other organizations. Edwin Howland Blashfield and his assistants Vincent Aderente (1880–1941) and Alonzo E. Foringer (1878–1948) are shown with a mural they created for the dome of the Wisconsin State Capitol. The photo was taken at the Vanderbilt Gallery in New York, c. 1912. The trio used stereopticons to project mural sketches onto canvas, then moved around on movable stairs to finalize the images. 

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