Martin Borgord was born Feb. 8, 1869 in Guasdal, Norway and died March 25, 1935 in Riverside, California. At the young age of 16, Borgord was a resident of San Francisco and enrolled to study with Virgil Macey Williams (1830- 1886) at the San Francisco Art Associations School of Design.
With an interest in both painting and sculpture, Borgord would travel to Paris. He was accepted to study at the Julian Académie under Jean-Paul Laurens and at the École des Beaux-Arts Academie with sculptor Charles Raoul Verlet.
In 1896, Martin Borgord would return to New York City and enroll at the newly opened Chase School of Art (later renamed the New York School of Art) with William Merritt Chase. Although virtually unknown today, he was recognized in both the United State and Europe as a prominent painter and sculptor. By 1899 the influential art dealer William Macbeth, who was devoted to the cause of promoting American art, was representing Borgord in New York.
In 1900, Martin Borgord would travel to Pittsburgh to attend a painting exhibition for friend and fellow artist William Henry Singer (the son of steel magnate William Singer), who he had met in Paris at the Julian Académie. Andrew Carnegie, who had taken a liking to his work, sponsored the exhibition.
In the late 19th century, it was not unusual for the city dwellers with means in Amsterdam, Utrecht and The Hague, to seek refuge during the dry summer months in the countryside of the Netherlands. The yearning for the open air also affected artist who were under the influence of the impressionists in Paris and those similarly minded artists of the Haagse School of The Hague. With a legacy from his father, Singer, his young wife and Borgord would set out for Laren from Pittsburgh via Monhegan Island off the coast of Maine. Borgord and Steel would share a studio in Laren. They were host during this period to a great number of American artist, including, among other, Henry Ward Ranger, William Henry Howe, Amy Cross, Charles Gruppe, Walter Castle Keith and Joseph Raphael.
Borgord would return to the United States to assume the directorships both of the Art School of the Carnegie Institute and the Allegheny (Pennsylvania) School of Painting but would continue to maintain a part-time studio in Holland.
At the 1905 Paris Salon, Borgord is honored with a gold medal and, years later in 1924, with a one-man exhibition of his paintings and sculptures at the Galerie de Marsan. He exhibited at New York's National Academy of Design in 1913 and again in 1919. His membership affiliations also reflect the international stamp of the man, for he belonged not only to New York's exclusive Salmagundi Club but also to the St. Lucas Society in Amsterdam, the Allied Art Association, and the American Art Association of Paris.
As painter of landscapes, portraits, still lifes, and marines, Borgord was represented by two Dutch scenes in the Lyme group exhibition of 1916. He also exhibited with the group 1918. Fellow artists, Emil Carlsen and Henry Ward Ranger would influence him to spend several weeks in Old Lyme during the height of the laurel season in the summer of 1916. He would begin working in a studio behind Florence Griswold's house. A writer for the Hartford Courant interviewed him then and described one of the canvases he saw as "a brilliant colorful impression of a lady standing amidst the laurel bed." The artist explained his most recent painting interests to the reporter: "I formerly worked for effects of dark and light; now I paint entirely for unusual effects and harmonies of color." (Had the Impressionism of Old Lyme influenced him or had he come to Old Lyme for support of his new ideas?) The reviewer admired Borgord's work for what he termed its "consummate draughtsmanship, and great reserve, that rare ability to show absolute truth of relations within a restricted scale of values."
Luxembourg Museum, Paris
Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh
National Academy of Design, NY
Washington County Museum Fine Arts, Hagerstown, MD.
Sweat Memorial Art Museum, Portland, Maine
Biography courtesy of Roughton Galleries, www.antiquesandfineart.com/roughton