Jacob D. Blondel, A. N. A.
Artists of the Nineteenth Century, Clara Erskine Clement & Laurence Hutton, Vol I., 1879.
American artist, born in New York of Irish parents. Began study of art when he was thirty, being a pupil of William Page. He confined himself to portraiture, and before the War of the Rebellion had attained some celebrity in that of the profession. He was particularly remarkable for the free effect of his coloring. The last of his life was spent in misery and unhappiness. In deep poverty, he was too sensitive to make his wants known to his friends, and is said to have died of starvation in his studio in New York. Two of the latest specimens of his work, portraits of children are in the possession of Mr. Joseph Stuart of that city. He was an Associate Member of the National Academy of Design.
LOCAL MISCELLANY. THE SAD DEATH OF AN ARTIST JACOB D. BLONDELL, A PORTRAIT PAINTER, DIES IN HIS STUDIO FROM STARVATION.
The New York Times
Mr. Jacob D. Blondell, once a well-known and highly respected portrait painter, was found dead yesterday morning on a sofa in his studio, on the upper floor of No. 806 Broadway. He had long suffered from hemorrhoids, and having of late been unable to obtain proper nourishment, his system had becom weakened and and among those who knew him best it is generally believed that he died from the effects of starvation. Mr. Blondell (sic) was born in this city, of Irish parents, about the year 1817, and was consequently at the time of his death 60 years old. He did not begin the study of art until he had reached the age of 30, and then he took lessons from Mr. William Page, confining himself almost entirely to the study of portraiture. Previous to the rebellion he attended som celebrity as a portrait painter, and was generally regarded as a man of means. He had many warm personal friends and patrons, among whom was Gen. di Cesuola, the late Commodore Rogers, the Livingstones, Murrays, and other well-known New York families. Mr. Blondell was particularly remarkable for the fine effect of his coloring, some of his femal heads being superb. Soon after the close of the war he began the painting of fancy heads, the features of which were drawn from imagination, and which obtained the production of small figure subjects, but being deficient in the study of modern art, and never having visited any of the foreign schools, he did not succeed. He was very jealous in his nature, as was also of an irasible temperament, which at times had a tendency to draw away from him that sympathy which would otherwise have been extended by his friends and brother artists. His drawing was somewhat defective, and when photography was introduced he was unable to keep pace with the times, the demand for fine and bold drawing being ever on the increase. He then took to drinking, his patronage began to fall off about the same time, and he became rapidly reduced in circumstance. Then he seemed to lose all the creative genius that he was possessed of, and during the past few years he has had barely enough work to keep him alive. Notwithstanding this face he contiinued drinking, and would often, after having borrowed money from his fellow-artists for the purpose of getting something to eat, go out and squander it for liquor. He had a very severe attack of hemorrhoids about a year ago and would, had he not been discovered, have died in his studio, a physician who examined him saying that he was in a state of complete exhaustion resulting from starvation. The fact that he would, after receiving assistance from other artists go among their friends and talk of them in a derogatory manner, tended to keep aloof from him and on this account he frequently suffered. He was seen during the latter part of last week, and seemed to be in a very weak and exhausted condition, and this gave rise to grave suspicions. Yesterday morning Mr. Miller, an artist, who occupies the studio adjoining that of Mr. Blondell, knocked at his door several time, and, receiving no response, went uon the foof of the building and peered down into the room, where he saw the unfortunate man stretched upon the sofa dead. The Police were called in and the facts reported to Coroner Woltman, who will make an investigation. Mr. Blondell has a brother, a well-to-do citizen of Brooklyn, who has taken charge of his remains, and will see they are decently interred. It is supposed that the unfortunate artist died on Saturday night or Sunday.
Published: May 9, 1877
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