Johann Berthelsen painted exquisitely rendered landscapes of New York City, judged "poetic" by contemporary critics. Ironically, though it was music, not art, to which he originally aspired.
A native of Copenhagen, Denmark, Berthelsen was six when his family immigrated to the U.S. in 1889. At 18 he studied music and voice for 4 years at the Chicago Musical College. Following graduation he toured the U. S. and Canada as lead baritone for the Grand Opera Company, after which he taught voice- first at his alma mater and then at the Indianapolis Conservatory of Music. In 1920 he opened a private studio in New York City where he gave voice lessons.
Although he devoted most of his time to singing and music, Berthelsen painted - at first for his own pleasure and then, after 1932, on a full time basis He initially established his artistic reputation with his work in pastels. Working with small canvases, he found inspiration in New York's Central Park, rendering the most effective seasonal transformations. He turned his attention to oils and the fundamentals of drawing in order to discover a technique appropriate to the medium. He used a heavy impasto to render his landscapes and his city and park snowscapes. He died in 1969. His work can be seen in many museums including the Terre Haute Museum, Indiana and Wake Forest College, North Carolina.