Monday, December 9, 2013

Creator: Blanche Ostertag

Blanche Adele Ostertag
born August 27, 1872, St. Louis, Missouri

1880 U.S. Federal Census
June 3, 1880
The census recorded Ostertag as the oldest (seven years old) of two daughters born to Albert and Anne. Her father, a physician, was born in Wurtenburg (Germany) and her mother in Switzerland. They resided in St. Louis on Third Street. 

School of Fine Arts
Ostertag, Blanche Adele . . . 2010 N. 9th st.

1890 St. Louis City Directory
Ostertag’s listing said she resided at “2010 1/2 N. 9th”
and was a stenographer at ”Berry & Scruggs.”

August 24, 1892

New York Tribune
May 25, 1893
Annual Exhibition of the Cooper Union Woman’s Art Department
Pen and ink illustration certificate awarded to B. Ostertag (next to last line)

Passport Application
On July 5, 1894, Ostertag applied for a passport, found at Her birth was August 27, 1872, St. Louis, Missouri, and described as five feet six-and-a-half inches, blue eyes and blonde hair. She was an artist. The passport was issued July 12 and mailed to 4238A Garfield Avenue, St. Louis.

New York Herald

August 11, 1894
On board the Netherlands American line steamer Spaarndam,
bound for Rotterdam, will be…Miss Blanche Ostertag...

November 9, 1894
Ostertag, Blanche A., St Louis USA
Annette Stott
Overlook Press, 1998

The New York Times
April 21, 1895
“Salon of Champ Mars”
Splendid Display by Americans
The American exhibitors...In the drawing section...
Blanche Ostertag of St. Louis, (a pastel Portrait,)...

April 21, 1895
“The Champ de Mars Salon”
see next to last paragraph

Passenger List
On September 7, 1896, Ostertag returned to the United States according to a New York passenger list at She sailed on the steamship Veendam from Boulogne-sur-Mer, France.

St. Louis Republic
October 15, 1896
“Genius Recognized.”

November 15, 1896
A recent addition to the colony of artists in Chicago is Miss Blanche Ostertag, who formerly resided in St. Louis, but upon returning from a protracted stay in Europe...

February 20, 1897 the Art Institute…Miss Ostertag some Parisian street scenes that have character....

A small exhibition of pastels is in progress at O’Brien’s…Miss Blanche Ostertag, also, shows some work that has style and charm in it...

March 24, 1897
“Arche Club Salon Open”
...Miss Blanche Ostertag exhibits two monotypes...

September 19, 1897 Miss Blanch [sic] Ostertag...

St. Louis Republic
November 11, 1897

The Inter Ocean
December 5, 1897
Another young artist who has come to Chicago within the past year, and who has a studio in the Athenaeum building, is Blanche Ostertag. Her home is in St. Louis, but, although exceptional inducements were offered her to remain there, she preferred to set up her studio in an unknown land and struggle up the ladder without the assistance of family and friends. She has become known in Chicago art fields principally through her monotypes, in the employment of which process she is unique among Chicago artists. Her particular style of painting seems unusually well adapted to this form of art, her lively mind, quick hand, and bold breadth of treatment producing very happy results. When one understands that the impression is made from a plate on which the painting is still wet, one realizes that a great deal depends on the expeditiousness of the artist. As only one impression can be made from a plate, the monotype is as valuable in point of rarity as a painting. Miss Ostertag’s monotypes show considerable originality in the choice of subjects and a great deal of dash and effectiveness in the outlines. The walls of her studio are hung with paintings that she did while studying abroad. Two interiors are interesting in subject and handling; one “The Lacemaker’s of Venice,” is a scene from the same interior that Zorn and Walter Gay have painted so effectively; it is nice in tone and broadly handled. The small canvas depicting a bit of a Parisian boulevard is good in composition and delightfully treated. But perhaps the strongest impression one receives from Miss Ostertag’s work is of her unbounded courage and splendid promise for the future.
December 1897
“B. Ostertag”

January 10, 1898 to February 22, 1898
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
Blanche Ostertag, 804 Athenaeum Building, Chicago.
336 Boulevard Raspail.

February 20, 1898
Anderson Art Gallery–Works of Miss Blanche Ostertag

February 27, 1898
Miss Blanche Ostertag, whose paintings and monotypes at the Anderson Art Galleries have attracted much attention during the last week, will leave for St. Louis…

March 6, 1898
It is probable that, for a time at least, Chicago will lose one of its cleverest women artists. Miss Blanche Ostertag, whose paintings and monotypes at the Anderson Art galleries have attracted much attention during the last week, will leave for St. Louis at the close of her exhibition, March 7, and later will make a trip through Mexico. Two of her exhibited works have been sold.

March 13, 1898
“Women’s Idea of Manly Beauty”
Ostertag mentioned

March 20, 1898
…Arthur Dawson and Alice Hayes are soon to leave the city permanently. H. G. Maratta and Roberto Rascovitch left for Italy last Tuesday and Blanche Ostertag and Lucie Hartrath will leave Chicago in a few days for St. Louis and Paris respectively. Evidently the object of the Chicago Art association to induce artists to remain in Chicago has not yet been accomplished….

April 17, 1898
Miss B. Ostertag and another woman who has a studio in the Atheneum Building have caught the auction fever and are preparing to hold a sale of sketches...

August 3, 1898
“Gift of a Chicago Lawyer.”
Ostertag mentioned

The Morning Star
August 4, 1898
“Summer Home for Literati.”

December 1898
“Blanche Ostertag”

December 8, 1898
... of how a schoolroom can be economically decorated was awarded by the committee of the Central Art association to Miss B. Ostertag...

The Fine Arts Building, Chicago, Illinois
Ostertag was a tenant in the late 1890s
Alson J. Smith
Henry Regnery Company, 1953
…In 1890, however, the muse established a permanent beachhead at Michigan Avenue and Van Buren Street. The Fine Arts Building was erected on that site, and immediately became an outpost of culture on the frontier of Megapolis. The Fortnightly Club, a lady’s literary organization centering around the mater familias of Chicago belles-lettres, Anna Morgan, had its headquarters there. John McCutcheon, the cartoonist, had a study in the building, and so did Lorado Taft, Charles Francis Browne, Ralph Fletcher Seymour, Herman MacNeil, Frank and Joe Leyendecker, Blanche Ostertag, Ralph Clarkson and George Ade….

The Art Institute of Chicago
November 15 to December 18, 1898
Ostertag, Miss B.‚ Fine Arts Building, Chicago. Born in St. Louis, Mo. Studied with Lhermitte, Laurens and Collin, Paris. Member Society of Western Artists. 
216. Crespuscule. 
217. The white halls. 
218. The glen. 
219. At Eagle’s Nest. 

Miss B. Ostertag, Chicago: Oil paintings: “Lace Makers.” “Place St. Michel.” Pastel: “Boy Spooling.” Monotype: Portrait [L. 808.] Received in 1897.

January 1899
In the December issue of Brush and Pencil, by a clumsy error, the article on Miss B. Ostertag was accredited to Miss Helen Underwood. We beg to apologise to her, and to state to our readers that it was not written by her.

February 26, 1899
Blanche Ostertag is represented by a composition, showing small [illegible] of a woman and child walking beneath great forest trees whose crests are touched with sun...

The Inland Printer
March 1899
R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company, Chicago, which had been sending out monthly calendars during 1898, has changed the plan for this year, issuing a handsome poster calendar covering the first six months of 1899. The design is a very elaborate one, by Miss Ostertag, and is executed in a number of printings. The three female figures, clad in yellow, green, and red, form a most striking poster effect. Each carries some figure or emblem indicative of the first three months of the year, and the symbols covering the other three months are worked into the design to good advantage. The design and execution of the calendar are of the highest grade, and do credit to both the artist and the printers.

April 8, 1899
Chicago. Ill. — For exhibition in the public schools of this city Miss Blanch Ostertag has designed a large poster which represents the reading of the Declaration of Independence before the American army in New York, July 9, 1776. As a work of art it is said to be very strong and direct.

July 2, 1899
Miss B. Ostertag is conducting classes at Lake Bluff. 

July 1899
“Brush & Pencil Series of American Color Prints”

September 24, 1899
Miss Blanch Ostertag and Miss Louise Anderson have taken a house on Rush street near Chicago avenue. in which they will arrange their studios working and living rooms. This shows the need in Chicago of a building which should combine studios and living rooms. There are many artists in the city who are obliged to spend a good part of the short hours of winter daylight in street cars and trains.

October 1899
click link then scroll to the first lithograph after page 32

“Wright incorporated the glass mosaic designed fireplace in three of his homes. The first was the Husser Residence (1899)…The wisteria design was consistent in all three homes, and was designed by Blanche Ostertag and executed by Orlando Giannini.” (also see The Decorative Designs of Frank Lloyd Wright)

Edited by Ishbel Gordon Marchioness of Aberdeen
T. Fisher Unwin, 1900
...Blanche Ostertag, of Chicago, has specialised in designing large historical cartoons in flat tones of colour to be printed for schoolroom decoration…

Volume III, 1900_1901
Ostertag, Blanche, 800 Athenaeum Bldg., Chicago. Ill. Born St. Louis, Mo. Pupil of Laurens, L’Hermitte and Delance in Paris. Member S. W. A. Also illustrator.

March 18, 1900
“Lecture by Miss Ostertag.”
Miss B. Ostertag, a Chicago artist and the author of the George Washington poster and other works of a similar character, delivered a lecture on “Child Stories in Color” at the Chicago Kindergarten College in the afternoon. Miss Ostertag exhibited a number of canvases which she proposed as models for reproduction. She suggested that the interest of the people should be aroused to demand the introduction of good colored pictures in the schools and nurseries to waken and educate the artistic sense and feeling in children. The members the association favored the plan to make a beginning by having the picture of the knight exhibited by Miss Ostertag reproduced in color for distribution in schools and nurseries.

1900 U.S. Federal Census
June 5, 1900
Ostertag resided in Manhattan, New York City at 132 East 16th Street. Her birth was recorded as “Jan 1877” and occupation as artist.

December 1900
“Mary Had a Little Lamb. An Old Friend in New Guise”
click link and scroll to page 568

The Art Institute of Chicago
Ostertag member

January 7, 1901

Drawings and Posters by Miss B. Ostertag. April 21 to May 27.
Special Exhibition of fifty Drawings and Posters by herself.

June 1901
“When De Angels Call”
click link and scroll to page 558

The Rockford Daily Register-Gazette
July 11, 1901

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
September 6, 1901

The Washington Times
December 1, 1901

Ostertag, Blanche, artist; b. St. Louis, Mo. Studied under Laurens, L’Hermltte and Delance, Paris. Exhibited in Champ de Mars Salons, 1895, 1896. Mem. Soc. Western Artists. Address: Chicago.

February 1902
“Latter-day Developments in American Pottery–II”
…the Teco pottery works have had plenty of room and the best of workmen, with unlimited kiln facilities and every appliance necessary for the manufacture. Capable artists have been employed as designers among whom are Fritz Albert, Hugh Garden, Blanche Ostertag, and W. J. Dodd….

February 1902
Illustration and profile

Special Exhibition, February 20-March 2, 1902
Saint Louis Museum of Fine Arts, 1902

February 24, 1902
“Talented Chicago Book Illustrator”

March 29, 1902
...One of the interesting spring books, by the way, in entitled Captain Jinks, and is the presentation. in book form, of Mr. Fitch’s play, Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines. It contains portraits of Miss Ethel Barrymore, who has taken the leading part in it during the two years of its presentation, and various other pictures. The cover is curious, in that it is a reproduction of a drawing, on cloth, by a new process. The cover designer is Miss Blanche Ostertag, who has been doing some unique work.

April 1902
“The Heart of the House”
…may be set off with gold and glass mosaic, like one recently designed by Miss Ostertag for a house in Buena Park…

May 1902
Sketches of Ostertag by Frank Holme

July 1902
reprinted from Brush and Pencil, February 1902

August 1902
“Recent Work of Illustrators—Blanche Ostertag”

August 31, 1902 
“Effect of Women’s Intellect on Her Beauty”
Ostertag mentioned

October 1902
The late Max Muller’s “Memories” will be illustrated
by Blanche Ostertag in a sumptuous edition.

November 1902
“Blanche Ostertag, Artist”

November 30, 1902
“Famous Animal Models of Chicago Artists”
Any one who has noted the eager look of the child who is spotting white horses might have seen the same expression on Miss Blanche Ostertag’s face.

November 23, 1902
William Wendt, a painter of Western landscape, and Blanche Ostertag, one of the best known designers ad illustrators of children’s books in the country, formerly of St. Louis, are Chicago artists who will exhibit.

Blanche Ostertag, Chicago:
Painting: “Sans Souci”. Water Color: “Calendar”.

Poem That Every Child Should Know
Mary Burt, Editor
Doubleday, Page & Company, 1902
Decorations by Blanche Ostertag

Max Muller
A.C. McClurg & Company, 1902
Illustrated and decorated by Blanche Ostertag

January 25, 1903
“Hints for Beautiful Woman”
How to Preserve Youthful Appearance
There is a quartet of qualities, says Blanche Ostertag, the artist, which spells the physical charms of the beautiful maiden.

February 18, 1903
“Women Workers in the Field of Publicity” is the chief note in Profitable Advertising for February. Miss Griswold has made a thorough canvass of the highways and byways of publicity and finds about forty women who are ad-writers, advertising artists, publishers, advisors or special representatives. A surprising number of them are prominent in their several fields. There are Miss Minnie Maud Hanff, creator of “Jim Dumps,” Miss Blanche Ostertag, the Chicago poster designer, Miss Helen Mar Shawm advertising manager of James B. Clow & Sons, Chicago...

March 23, 1903
“The Artistic Element in Woman’s Dress.”
Try to Do Without Corsets. Actresses Study Art of Dressing.
by Blanche Ostertag

April 7, 1903
Miss Blanche Ostertag will speak on mural decorations in libraries.

June 22–26, 1903
Miss Blanche Ostertag spoke on “Principles of Decoration as Applied to Libraries and Schools.”

New York Herald
December 17, 1903

December 29, 1903 to January 24, 1904
The Art Institute of Chicago

Volume IV, 1903–1904
Ostertag, Blanche (P., I.) 33 Tree Studio Bldg., Chicago. Ill.
Born St. Louis, Mo. Pupil of Laurens, L’Hermitte and Delance in Paris. Member S. W. A.; Chicago S. A.
Cincinnati Museum Association
April 21 to May 27.—Drawings and Posters by Blanch [sic] Ostertag.

April 7, 1904
“Art Jury Completes Work”
Exhibits for Fine Arts Department to Be Announced Saturday
Artists, architects and sculptors who comprised the jury which selected the exhibits for the Fine Arts Department at the World’s Fair, completed their task yesterday in the Museum of Fine Arts, and the results will be made known Saturday...

James Branch Cabell
Doubleday, Page & Company, 1904
Decorated by Blanche Ostertag

March 19, 1905

December 1905
“Old English Christmas Carols”

Volume XIV, 1905
Ostertag, Blanche, 14 Astor St., Chicago, Ill.

Hamilton Wright Mabie
Doubleday, Page & Company, 1905
Illustrated and decorated by Blanche Ostertag

Marion Ames Taggart
Henry Holt & Company, 1905
Frontispiece and decorations by Blanche Ostertag

Volume V, 1905–1906
Ostertag, Blanche, 33 Studio Bldg., Chicago. Ill. (P., I.). Born St. Louis, Mo. Pupil of Laurens, Lhermitte and Delance in Paris.

Hamilton Wright Mabie
Doubleday, Page & Company, 1905
Illustrated and decorated by Blanche Ostertag

Dolores M. Bacon, Editor
Doubleday, Page & Company, 1906
Illustrated and decorated by Blanche Ostertag

Blanche Elizabeth Wade
A.C. McClurg & Company, 1906
Frontispiece and other drawings by Blanche Ostertag

March 1906
American Ceramics ...The Gates potteries are located in a picturesque valley beside a little lake. Aquatic plants are cultivated there and furnish the motifs to the designers. Besides William D. Gates, T. Albert, W. I. Dodd, Blanche Ostertag, Mundie and Dunning are designers for Teco....

November 27, 1906
Cover, frontispiece and additional art by Ostertag in Good Housekeeping, December 1906

July 14, 1907
Among well-known artists who will illustrate Doubleday, Page & Co.’s, 1908 publications are…Blanche Ostertag...

December 1907
Cover: “Christmas at Mount Vernon, 1783” by Blanche Ostertag

Volume 2, 1907
Miss Blanche Ostertag:. the mural painter, summers here.

Volume VI, 1907–1908
Ostertag, Blanche, care Doubleday, Page & Co., New York, N.Y. (P., I.). Born St. Louis, Mo. Pupil of Laurens, Lhermitte and Delance in Paris. Member S. W. A.

The Evening Telegram
March 25, 1908
“From a Poster Painter, Woman Decorates Fifth Avenue Homes”
Miss Ostertag, by Ceaseless Toil, Becomes One of Few Women Mural Artists

The Syracuse Herald
March 29, 1908

April 19, 1908

The Washington Post
June 7, 1908
“Picturesque Summer Homes of Well-Known American Artists”
…Miss Blanche Ostertag, the mural painter, expects to spend her summer at a new artist colony just established near Philadelphia...

Lexington Herald
December 27, 1908

Ostertag, Blanche — 114 W. 72nd St., New York.
271. Figure of Michael from group of “The Everlasting Covenant.”
For hall of Mrs. J.J. Husser, Chicago, Ill.

Ostertag, Miss Blanche, 27 W. 67th st., N.Y.—Art Workers’, N.Y.

Hamilton Wright Mabie and Kate Stephens
Doubleday, Page & Company, 1908
Decorated by Blanche Ostertag

Hamilton Wright Mabie
The Christian House, 1908
Decorated by Blanche Ostertag

Utica-Herald Dispatch
April 17, 1909
Miss Blanche Ostertag, one of the few mural artists in the country, settled in Chicago after several years study in Paris. Beginning with designs for calendars, posters and other small forms of decorative art, she worked up to the broad field of mural paintings. One of her important commissions, just completed, was for the Northwestern Railroad. At the Green Bay terminal she made a aeries of historical panels for the offices. Miss Ostertag has now taken a residence in New York City and is at work on the walls, of a palatial home. Her wall decorations for the New Amsterdam Theater in New York have attracted wide attention to the rare quality of her work.

New Idea Woman’s Magazine
September 1909
Ostertag illustration

1910 U.S. Federal Census
May 6, 1910
Ostertag resided with her mother, a widow, and sister, Rosa, in Manhattan, New York City, at 535 West 156th Street. Ostertag’s occupation was oil painting artist, and Rosa’s was an architect. The 1910 New York city directory said Ostertag and Rosa were artists.

May 1, 1911

August 1911
...Thus for the second time an American girl has smashed the traditions of these exhibitions. The other American, who did this was Miss Blanche Ostertag, who, a few years ago, sent canvases to both salons the same season, the better to hope for an acceptance in the one or the other, and was dismayed to receive a notification from both juries that her wrk had been accepted for both exhibitions. This fact set Parisian art critics agog for the rest of the year.

1912 New York City Directory
Ostertag and her artist sister were listed at the same 1910 directory address.

New York Post
March 12, 1912
“Seen at Spring Academy”
Detail of article; see last sentence in column three

Volume X, 1913
Ostertag, Blanche, 276 West 71st St., New York, N.Y.
P., I.—Born St. Louis, Mo. Pupil of Collin, Laurens and Constant in Paris. Award: Revell prize, for school room decoration, St. Louis. Work: Mural decorations: “Sailing of the Claremont,” New Amsterdam Theatre, New York; “Old Indian Fort,” N.W.R.R. Station, Green Bay, Wis.; “Everlasting Covenant” (5 panels), “The Songs of David” (3 panels), and mosaics, Husser House, Chicago, Ill.; Illustrations for “Old Songs for Young America.” 

Volume XI, 1914
Cincinnati Art Museum
Oct.—12 [1913] paintings and illustrations by Blanche Ostertag.

Volume IV
Thomas William Herringshaw
American Publishers Association, 1914
Ostertag, Blanche, artist, author, was born in St. Louis. Mo. She is a member of the society of western artists; and resides in Chicago, Ill. She is the author of Old Songs for Young Americans.

April 1917
Jean Nicollet Chapter (De Pere, Wis.) celebrated on Oct. 6, 1916 the one hundredth anniversary of the American occupation of Fort Howard….

...At the request of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Company, this picture was painted by Blanch Ostertag, from old drawings of the fort and from descriptions given by early residents of Green Bay. The painting has been pronounced by art critics to be one of the finest examples of poster painting in this country.

Rockford Morning Star
July 7, 1918
Detail of article

• • •

Regarding Ostertag’s family, her father passed away 1906. A family tree at said her mother died 1919 in Brooklyn. The 1930 and 1940 censuses recorded her sister in Los Angeles, and the California Death Index said she died in Placer, October 25, 1957.

What became of Ostertag after 1918 is not known. Her last known residence was Chicago according to Herringshaw’s National Library of American Biography. Ostertag has not been found in the 1920, 1930 and 1940 censuses. It’s possible she passed away before those censuses were enumerated. If she died in Chicago, presumably it would have been reported in one of the local papers and St. Louis, but an obituary has not been found.

Did Ostertag marry? In New York, the Evening Telegram, December 24, 1923, printed a classified advertisement which said: “Painting by Blanche Ostertag Potter: Christmas subject. Phone Riverside–6184 for particulars.” Was this Ostertag’s married name or an error by the seller? There was an artist named Blanche Tucker Potter, who was two years older than Ostertag.

Perhaps she moved. There is a Blanche Ostertag buried in Canada.

• • •

Additional Reading and Sources

Juliann Sivulka
Prometheus Books, 2009
...and B. Ostertag, who applied her ideas on art to advertising posters.

Q2 1981

Gilhooley’s Grande Saloon
…But in fact, this eclectic spot is almost as much of a gallery of art and artifacts as it is a restaurant. Dozens of stylized posters, by such artists as Toulouse-Lautrec, Cheret and Blanche Ostertag, grace the walls….

Summer 2012
“Influences on Frank Lloyd Wright: Blanche Ostertag and Marion Mahony”
by Wilbert R. Hasbrouck

Ellen Mazur Thomson
Yale University Press, 1997
Blanche Ostertag was acclaimed as a young and talented designer at the turn of the century. Little is known of her life or career, only that she was born in St. Louis and studied in Europe before coming to Chicago, where she designed posters and advertisements for leading businesses.

Sydney Robert Jones
The Studio, 1924
...Women artists in this country of good posters have not been found wanting. They have made excellent, though rather fitful contributions, which show the feminine vision combined with strength and vigour in execution. Blanche Ostertag gave particularly dainty designs, and among others equally good are those of Ethel Reed and Florence Lundborg….

ProQuest Links
Chicago Daily Tribune
B Ostertag

United States Department of the Interior
National Park Service
National Historic Landmark Nomination
Second Presbyterian Church
Chicago, Illinois
from page 46: Blanche Ostertag, a painter, illustrator, muralist and designer from St. Louis, Missouri, worked in Chicago with Giannini and Hilgart, whom she met in Paris when they were students at the Academie Julian and studied under Benjamin Jean-Joseph Constant. With Giannini & Hilgart she designed art-glass windows and the glass mosaics for which she became renowned. Among her best known works was the glass mosaic mantel for Frank Lloyd Wright’s Joseph Husser House (demolished) in Chicago in 1899. At Second Presbyterian Church, she is credited with the design of the graceful grapevine leaded-glass window screens between the narthex and the sanctuary which were executed by Giannini and Hilgart. She was also a prolific illustrator for books, posters and other crafts, and her works were exhibited in numerous museums including the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Clara Erskine Clement
Echo Library, 2007

(Next post on Monday: Hand Lettered)

1 comment:

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