Theodore Van Soelen (1890-1964)

Where: Old Dormitory at Marvelwood that was later rented by Thurber or owned Great Hill house before Thurber?

When: 1930s-1950s?

Van Soelen was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and studied at the St. Paul Institute until 1911 then the Pennsylvania Academy of Art until 1915. Van Soelen spent 1913 and 1914 traveling Europe expanding the breadth and depth of his art education. Upon returning to the United State Van Soelen traveled west, took a position as a commercial illustrator in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and began selling his first paintings.


As Van Soelen liked to paint local people in their local habitat. Thus he spent much time in small towns, on ranches, and even a year at San Ysidero’s Indian Trading Post to better understand the people and places that he was painting. After Van Soelen’s 1922 exhibition in Cincinnati he became nationally known and his art became so popular in the northeast that during the 1930s he established a second studio in Cornwall, CT. Contrary to the practices of many part-time residents, Van Soelen would winter in Cornwall and summer in Tesuque, a village of Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Though most popular for his southwestern- themed art, Van Soelen also painted a wide variety of landscapes and portraits. In 1938 he the WPA was awarded him a commission by the WPA to paint a mural in the Portales, New Mexico post office.  Van Soelen was a fellow of the National Academy of Design, and exhibited in many locations around the United States including the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Van Soelen died in New Mexico in 1964. 

Theodore Van Soelen (1890-1964)