“Torch Light Fishermen of Waikiki”, at Dusk, Oahu, Hawaii, dated 1938 (Depicts traditional torch fishing in Waikiki on the current site of the Outrigger Canoe Club, Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii)
Carl W. Brandien, (1886-1965)
Oil on Board
16″ x 20″
Defined with his self-bestowed identity as “The Vagabond Artist”, Carl William Brandien set out to travel the world on quests to discover and paint beauty from every corner of the world. Joined by his wife Kaye, ironically a survivor of the sinking of the Lusitania whom he met onboard a steamer voyage to California, they began their “Vagabondage” tour in 1930. Beginning in the West and onto Hawaii and beyond, they came back to the islands in the shadows of the World War that was erupting in 1937. Brandien was an American soldier in France during World War I.
Originals by Brandien are very seldom available, and only a handful of Hawaiian scenes have ever been discovered. The majority of his artistic output is held in a large collection bequeathed to the Augusta Curtis Cultural Center of Meriden, Connecticut, who held a 120-plus exhibition of his works in 2005. Besides this, his commission to paint the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets as a gift for President Franklin Roosevelt today hangs in his Hyde Park presidential collection, and a portrait of the opening night of the Metropolitan Opera that still hangs in the Met.
Professionally, Brandien’s art and personal story was celebrated during his career, with numerous articles printed about his travels and painting. He often blended the natural beauty of his surroundings with the best of humanity’s architectural achievements, often churches. Born in New York, he re-established himself in the New York art community in the 1940s with his colorful and bright paintings that emphasized the positive side of life in a very bleak period of world history, and he later lived in Georgia and Florida. He won several awards, some with the National Academy of Design.
Born of Danish Parents July 24, 1886 in New York City
Father died when he was only a child and he was placed in an institution
Served with the American Expeditionary Forces in France in WWI
Honorably Discharged June 4, 1919
Died January 1, 1965 Ft Lauderdale, FL location not yet confirmed
Married to Hannah Ermine Kathleen Kirschbaum known as “Kaye”
Kaye was born June 30, 1898 in Hampstead England
Was a survivor of the sinking of the liner Lusitania on May 7, 1915 at the age of 16.
Became a naturalized citizen of the United States on May 20, 1944
Died September 24, 1963 Ft Lauderdale FL
Married January 27th, 1937 by the Reverend Harold F. Lemoine at the Church of the Transfiguration on East 29th Street in New York City
She was 38 years old when they married he was 50.
They met on a California bound steamer and he was attracted to the fact that she had the courage to travel that far with only $10.00 in her pocket.
Together they formed the “Vagabonds” and started a pilgrimage they called the “Vagabondage” or “quest of life”. Their goal was to “discover and paint beauty in all corners of the world.” Brandien then became known as the Vagabond Artist.
His trademark 42 pound knapsack carried all the essentials he needed to accomplish his quest which lasted for 7 years from 1930 to 1937. Documents in the collection show that if may well have been State Department warnings about the gathering war clouds in Europe that finally coaxed them home to the United States. Numerous stories relating their journeys were published in newspapers here and abroad including stories in the New York Sunday Herald July 8, 1923
1912 Student Academie Julian Paris France
1912 R.R. Gallerie Firenze ( Florence Italy )
1912 French Academie
1912 Art Academy of Rome
Early 1900s Member of the Art Students League of NY
Vice Commander of Riverside Post # 51 American Legion
1916 National Academy of Design
1929 Exhibited at Jeans Studio Adams MA ( Berkshires ) June 19 – July 10
1920s – 30s Frequent exhibitor at the Ainslie Galleries on Fifth Ave New York where his work commanded prices up to $800.00 in 1927. (Over $8,000 in 2005 dollars )
1935 Exhibited 22nd Annual Allied Artists of America, Inc Show May 6th
1935 Exhibited 13th Annual Spring Salon at The Salons of America, Inc. May 8th
1937 Commissioned to paint the great Atlantic and Pacific Fleets visit to New York Harbor in 1934 as a gift from the Democratic Committee of New York to President F. D. Roosevelt. It was presented to the President on January 30th, his birthday. The painting is reported to be hanging in Hyde Park to this day.
1939 Exhibited at the Barbizon Plaza Art Gallery New York City in honor of the Worlds Fair July 1 – October 1.
1939 Exhibit at the Parkway in Vero Beach Florida February 2 – 19th
1939 Exhibit at the Housekeeper’s Club of Coconut Grove Florida April 19th – May 6th
1940 Exhibit at the Prince George Hotel in New York City June 10th – July 1st
Exhibited at many other shows across the United States
Won the following awards from the National Academy of Design:
Bronze Medal for life drawing April 28, 1916
Honorable Mention Painting April 28, 1916
3rd Prize Hallgarten Fund for Painting April 28, 1917
2nd Prize Hallgarten Fund for Composition April 28, 1917
Illustrator for Life Magazine “A Bit of Old New York” and other periodicals in the early 1900s
Painted Murals for the Friar’s Club and The Russian Club in New York City, The Officers Mess Hall at West Point, and the 1935 Auto Show at the Grand Central Palace in New York as well as other Restaurants.
Painting of opening night at the Metropolitan Opera was presented to famed director David Mannes and reportedly still hangs in the Met.
His painting “forgotten” is at the University of Georgia in Athens.
Member of Astor Lodge #603 Free and Accepted Masons
Member of Phoenix Chapter # 2 Royal Arch Masons
Partial list of his travels
1922 Naples Italy February 10
1922 Tunisia March 29
1922 Algiers March 31
1922 Madrid Spain June 17
1930 Japan Jan 29
1930 Hawaii March 25
1930 Singapore May 7
1930 Saigon June 6
1930 Ceylon July 28
1930 France Sept 4
1938 France Oct 8
1938 Monaco August 22
1938 Sydney Australia
While in Tunisia he was caught painting a Moslem burial ritual. He was besieged by the mob and almost killed until one of the locals recognized him as a veteran of the “Great War” , interceded on his behalf and spirited him away from danger. The entire episode was documented in an interview Carl provided and a painting he did from the memory of that day.
Submitted by Carl Brechlin, Meriden, Connecticut, December 2005