Charles Kaelin 1858–1929
Described as an artist whose "love of nature amounted to a passion," Charles Kaelin was one of the earliest American exponents of Divisionism. A respected member of the art colony at Rockport, Massachusetts, Kaelin's colorful renderings of Cape Ann scenery were championed by many of his fellow artists.
Kaelin was born in Cincinnati in 1858. He entered a local lithographic firm at the age of sixteen. In the fall of 1877, he enrolled in evening classes at the McMicken School of Design (later known as the Art Academy of Cincinnati), where he was taught by Thomas Satterwhite Noble. During the summer or fall of 1878 Kaelin supplemented his studies by taking additional instruction from John Henry Twachtman. Not surprisingly, Twachtman's emphasis on landscape themes and his sketchy style appealed to Kaelin's own penchant for nature and subjective expression.
Kaelin traveled to New York City in 1879, where he would live throughout the 1880s and 1890s. He enrolled in classes at the Art Students League and worked as a lithographer, painting during his spare time. Returning to Cincinnati in 1892, he joined the prestigious Strobridge Lithographic Company, as a designer of theater posters, calendars and other forms of advertising art. In the years ahead, he took many sketching trips throughout southern Ohio and Kentucky. Working exclusively in pastel, a medium in which he excelled, he portrayed the countryside in a delicate, poetic manner, reminiscent of Twachtman. His earliest critical recognition came in 1899, when the Cincinnati Art Museum organized an important solo exhibition devoted exclusively to his pastels.
At the urging of his friend and fellow artist, Frank Duveneck, Kaelin made his first trip to Gloucester, Massachusetts, in the summer of 1900. Inspired by the clear, brilliant light of the region, as well as by the rugged coastlines and pine forests that typified the area, Kaelin continued to make seasonal visits to the North Shore for well over a decade. In 1916, Kaelin relinquished his lucrative career as a lithographer and settled permanently in Rockport, the smaller of the two principal towns on Cape Ann.