Søren “Emil” Carlsen was a skilled painter of portraits and landscapes, but was perhaps best known for his dark still lifes reminiscent of 18th-century French artist Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin. Most of Carlsen’s still lifes featured “kitchen” subjects of kettles and game, but he also depicted flowers and other motifs.
Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, Carlsen studied architecture at the Danish Royal Academy. He immigrated to Chicago in 1872 and worked as an architectural draftsman and as an art teacher at the Art Institute of Chicago. After studying in Paris, he moved to San Francisco to serve as Director of the California School of Design. After four years, he returned to the East and in 1905 purchased a summer home in Connecticut.