John Tensfeld

(or Tensfield, Tensfeldt)
born circa 1830-1832, Germany
died 8 September 1893, 906 Autumn Street, St Louis, Missouri, USA.
aged 63 years
buried no. 7366, Bellefontain Cemetery,
St Louis, Missouri, USA.

succeeded Tait Bros. in Greymouth c. July 1866
succeeded by John Low in Greymouth c. August 1867

Grey River Argus , Issue 81, 19 July 1866, Page 3

above - a portrait by John Tensfeld, Princes Street, opposite New Post office, Dunedin

The Alexander Turnbull Library has a photograph dated about 1865 by Freyberger & Tensfeld (Melbourne) - Reference number: PA2-0747

John Tensfeld possibly arrived in New Zealand on the "Alhambra" in 1866. Passenger list shows: Mr Tensfeld aged 30 in the Alhambra May 1866 for Bluff Harbour and Otago. -
Index to Outward Passengers to Interstate, UK, NZ and Foreign Ports 1852-1896, Public Record Office, Victoria.
Tensfield arrived on at Hokitika from Nelson on the s.s. "Claud Hamilton" on 4 July 1866. - West Coast Times, Issue 245, 5 July 1866, Page 2

At an amateur concert Mr Tensfeldt an others sung "Banish Oh Maiden" he also sung Lanner's German song, "The Tambour" and Weber's "Lutzow's Wild Hunt". - Grey River Argus , Issue 110, 25 September 1866, Page 2

We have inspected an oil color painting of the Grey River from the shipping quay, the work of Mr Tensfeldt, of this town. It is more particularly a shipping subject, the most prominent objects being two schooners at their moorings, but sufficient of the scenery on the Nelson side of the river is given to afford an idea of the artist's skill as a landscape painter. Mr Tensfeldt is evidently an artist of considerable ability, the small painting we refer to being in good keeping, well drawn, and judiciously colored. We trust he will turn his attention more particularly to some of the charming bits of scenery which this neighborhood affords, and we feel sure many persons would be glad to become possessors of his paintings. - Grey River Argus , Issue 113, 2 October 1866, Page 2

On the visit of he Governor to Greymouth in 1867 J. Tensfield was present at a levee held in is honour at the Courthouse. -
Grey River Argus, Volume III, Issue 163, 29 January 1867, Page 2

During race week in Greymouth in 1867 Mr Tensfeldt sold tickets for several oil paintings of local scenery, all of which are in the best style of art. One of the views up the river is a gem, and would rank with one of Chevalier's best efforts. Mr Tensfeldt is an artist of high order, and his paintings are well worth a place in any gallery. - Grey River Argus, Volume III, Issue 183, 16 March 1867, Page 2

[ca 1867]
Reference number: 1/2-004777-F The Alexander Turnbull Library

Many of our readers must, in passing the establishment of Mr. Otto Weisenhavern, tobacconist, of Trafalgar-street, have noticed a very lifelike and artistic portrait of the proprietor, exhibited in the window. On enquiry, we find that it was executed by Mr. Tensfeld, a German artist, who has been staying for some time at Greymouth, and who wishes to visit Nelson, should sufficient inducement offer. In other words, Mr. Tensfeld is anxious to find 20 sitters at £7 each, including a handsome frame, and we are told that of this number seven or eight names are already enrolled. We cannot doubt that many of our citizens will readily embrace this opportunity of obtaining a really good and durable portrait, either of themselves or of their families. - Nelson Evening Mail, Volume II, Issue 98, 29 April 1867, Page 2

Ships and Charleston harbour
[Between 1866-1872]
Reference No. 1/2-008047-F The Alexander Turnbull Library

Judging from the specimens which have been submitted to us, Mr Tensfeld's successor will fully and efficiently supply the local demand for photographic views and portraits. Mr Low comes from Auckland, and his portfolio contains many excellent specimens of the photographer's art, and will interest any of our Auckland friends. We wish the newcomer every success. - Grey River Argus, Issue 254, 29 August 1867, Page 2

Mr Tensfield, an artist of very deserved repute, in Hokitika, from the excellency of his productions, has just completed a very beautiful series of photographic views of Westland scenery. They compose three views of Hokitika — the entrance to the river, the block of churches, and Gibson's Quay. Greymouth, Blaketown, Ross, Westport, Charleston, Cobden, and Arthur's Pass, the mountain boundary between Canterbury and Westland. The whole series of views are in the finest style of photographic art, and enclosed in a most tastefully designed cover from the pencil of Mr Schmidt, constitute an album or portfolio of Westland scenery that will make a very handsome and acceptable present to send to friends.- West Coast Times , Issue 748, 15 February 1868, Page 2

Mr John Tensfield, artist, Princes street, has just published a new "Photographic Souvenir," containing twenty very good photographs of "important and interesting places" in New Zealand. Every publication of this description is interesting, not only to those who live in the Colony, but to friends and the public at Home. The beautiful scenery of New Zealand cannot fail to draw attention when exhibited in works of art like that compiled by Mr Tensfield, while the photographs of churches, public buildings, ports, and towns, so practically demonstrate the rapid advancement of the Colony that it is hardly possible to employ a more effective emigration agency than a wide diffusion of them would prove. Mr Tensfield has bound the sketches up in a neat volume, well fitted to lie on a drawing-room table. - Otago Witness, Issue 873, 22 August 1868, Page 11

The Fine Arts Exhibition, Dunedin 1869
No. 40, a painting by Tensfeld of Fox's (West Coast),exhibited by Mr Evans, shows some good sky and tolerably fair landscape painting. - Otago Witness , Issue 899, 20 February 1869, Page 8

Some time ago we noticed the excellent portrait-painting which was being executed at the studio of Mr. Bartlett, Upper Queen street. We now learn that there has been a very large demand for these portraits, and that every day orders are coming in. We are sincerely glad of this, for an artist of Mr. Tensfeld's rare ability merits the heartiest support, and the fact that he has found full employment for his skill in Auckland is an additional proof that a cultivated taste for the higher kinds of art already exists here, young as the community is. Hitherto there has been a great want here of a really first class artist, and those who desired to have their portraits have only been able to procure them at much inconvenience and expense.

The presence of an artist of Mr. Tensfeld's ability, however, has been the means of stimulating quite a taste for high art. It was fortunate that Mr. Tensfeld found a good deal of the way smoothed before him by his connection with Mr. Bartlett, whose superior photography has made his studio famous throughout the colony. As we have explained on a former occasion, the outlines are first taken by the aid of the camera. Yesterday had the pleasure of inspecting two very beautiful paintings of dogs in Mr. Bartlett's gallery. The one is the breed of a greyhound, and the other of a terrier. Each is itself a specimen of a peculiar type of excellency. In the head of the greyhound the smooth natural curve of the outlines is remarkable, as well as the skilful manner in which the background is made to give prominence and convexity to the picture. In the other picture, that of the terrier, the chief characteristic is the excellence of the colouring, the natural play of the long wiry hair, and the intelligent expression of quiet watchfulness which is thrown into the animal's face. This, we should imagine, is one of the best feature on all Tensfeld's painting, as we have remarked it in many of the portraits painted by him. We also had the pleasure of inspecting a number of photographic views of business houses, and the scenery at the Thames goldfield. Those, we need hardly say, are remarkable for that clearness and accuracy of detail which are observable in all Mr. Bartlett's work, and we are not surprised to learn that these views are much in request in the sister provinces and the Australian colonies. Those who desire to see what colonial art can do would derive much pleasure from a Visit to Mr. Bartlett's gallery. - Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXV, Issue 3839, 10 December 1869, Page 4

We have have had the pleasure of inspecting at Mr. Bartlett's Studio, Queen-street, some very fine photographic views which have been taken to the order of Mr. Wayte, for his new map of the Thames goldfield. The subjects consist of the principal business places, and public buildings at the Thames and Auckland; and in the selection which Mr. Bartlett has made he has displayed much taste and judgment. The photography is beautifully clear, and the focus has evidently been well chosen. This is oe of the chief characteristics of all Mr. Bartlett's photographs, while ordinary photographers cannot produce a clear picture with the best camera, or in the most favourable atmosphere. The skilful artist will contrive by carefully turning to account the most trivial advantage, to compensate for natural drawbacks. Mr. Bartlett also adds to this great judiciousness of taste in the selecting of a favourable aspect for his pictures, and this is one of those points in winch inferior artists most fail, simply because they are too apt to forget that success in photography, as in many other arts, depends more upon cultivated taste and judgment, than upon mere mechanical skill. A photographer, in the best sense of the word, is not, as many people suppose, a mere mechanist, and certainly Mr. Bartlett is not one. One need only examine the views to which we refer to see this, without seeing the many other works which have emanated from Mr. Bartletts studio. Mr. Wayte, we believe, intends to send the views to Melbourne to be lithographed, so as to issue them in connection with his large map of the Thames goldfield. We feel sure that these photographs will do credit to New Zealand. We mentioned some time ago that Mr. Bartlett had, in conjunction with Mr. Tensfield, commenced the production of lifelike portraits, and that the project bids fair to be a success. We are glad to learn now that so numerous were the orders for these portraits, that the original idea of forming a kind of art union had to be abandoned. The portraits already executed comprise those of most people of note in Auckland, but a great many more orders remain to be completed. - Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXVI, Issue 3910, 4 March 1870, Page 3

Mr Tensfield was a passenger on the s.s. City of Melbourne sailed 4 May 1870 from the Port of Auckland for Honolulu.

Nearly all St. Louis artists have to give place to Mr. John Tensfeld, whose studio is located at 418 1/2 Olive street. Mr. Tensfeld is a native of Germany and devoted his early life to studying in that country under the first masters. His studio is located on the fifth floor, being always accessible by elevator, and the light is all that can be desired. All will remember his famous portraits of the late General Sherman, painted from life for the Ransom Post and the Blair Post. He has also just completed a realistic landscape from the Wagon Wheel Gap in Colorado, showing the Indians in full chase of buffalos with grand mountain scenery in the back-ground. His celebrated centennial picture "Good Night" is always fresh in our minds. Mr. Tensfeld is a gentleman of about sixty years of age and an indispensable authority on all things pertaining to art. - Pen and Sunlight Sketches of Saint Louis: The Commercial Gateway to the South. Chicago: Phoenix Publishing Company, 1892.

Portrait of Sarah Jones, wife of John Jones, by John Tensfeld about 1868, University of Otago Library.


Anonymous said...

I own an original signed oil portrait by John N. Tensfeld. I live in St Louis, MO
I would like to communicate with someone about this portrait and other belongings of his.

I believe it may be a portrait of Henry Longfellow. I own a book, "Evangeline,", Issued Weekly Number 1, March 17, 1886, Houghton, Mifflin & Company. On the second page of the cover is a photograph of Longfellow. The inside cover has a hand written script - Anna Tensfeld High School J.10. . . .

About 20 years ago ? Tensfeld gave this painting to my artist friend who is deceased. At that time, I believe that she gave him a small oil painting of a thatched roof house/landscape, European scene, by H. Y. Adams, a European artist who also ended up living in St Louis, MO. I own this painting, also.

Early Canterbury Photography said...

Hello, thank you for your message about Tensfeld. It would be wonderful if you could somehow find relatives of Tensfeld, but I have no idea if he now has any living descendants.

If you have a photo of the painting or any information about Tensfeld I would be happy to published it on this site. best wishes, Tony in New Zealand