Saturday, October 15, 2011

Camouflage Artist | Charles H. Ebert

Charles H. Ebert (1873-1959)

Of late I have been trying to find information about an American impressionist painter named Charles H. Ebert (1873-1959). Born to affluent parents in Milwaukee, he grew up in Kansas City. His artistic training was at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, and the Art Students League in New York. In 1894, he went to Paris to study, along with Charles Allan Gilbert (who contributed to ship camouflage in WWI), Ernest Kaiser, Oscar Lentz, and Ernest L. Blumenschein (who had earlier been his roommate). When he returned to the US in 1896, he became the chief political cartoonist for Life magazine. He resigned that position after four years, and moved to Greenwich CT to paint full-time and to study with John Henry Twachtman. While studying with Twachtman, he became acquainted with Mary Roberts, who was also an artist, as well as the inheritor of a family fortune that had come from her father's invention of a device for oil drilling. They married in 1908.

Mary Roberts Ebert had graduated in 1895 from Wellesley College. In that school's alumni notes for 1917, she is described as "living this winter in New York. Her husband, Carl [sic] Ebert, an artist noted for his landscape painting, is doing experimental work for the camouflage of ships at sea" (p. 119). Presumably, Ebert was working in New York, where he was probably among the team of civilian camouflage artists headed by William Andrew Mackay.

Photo credit: Charles H. Ebert, Peter A. Juley & Son Collection, Smithsonian American Art Museum J0106662.