Ida Blessin: (Mrs. John Edward Costigan)  ❉

Ida Blessin: (Mrs. John Edward Costigan) ❉

❉ This fascinating interior portrait is believed to show the sculptor and artist’s model Ida (May) Blessin Costigan, b. 1895 wife of American artist John Edward Costigan. (1888-1972) In background just to the left of her head can be seen a gentleman walking towards the left part of the frame, a figure strongly resembling the artist. We have used the asterisk in making this claim only because the mount verso of this bromide photograph carries the following attribution in an unknown hand:

Probably- Mrs. John Costigan (wife of the artist)  Orangeburg  (Orange Hts)  New York


Born in East Prussia, Germany, Ida Blessin arrived at Ellis Island in the United States in October of 1907 as an 11 year old girl whose last place of residence was Weissenhohen, Germany, according to online records at Ellis Island. Blessin eventually married John Costigan, a first cousin to the  famous actor-manager and playwright George M. Cohan. After marrying in 1919, the couple moved from New York City to Orangeburg, New York, a small village on the Hudson River in Rockland County.

An excerpt for John Edward Costigan’s 1972 obituary in the The New York Times states:

His early oil paintings are representational, with some subjects reminiscent of those of Andrew Wyeth. They are distinguished by a rugged texture or thick impasto, as if laid on with a palette knife, and by strong color. His later work became more impressionistic. He received many awards for his work, which is represented in several museums as well as in private collections.  (Aug. 7th)

In a 1947 article on Costigan for American Artist magazine, his pastoral paintings done on his Orangeburg farm which exclusively depicted Ida Blessin and the couple’s children as models gave him the title “Millet of American Painting.” (Oct. p. 27)

Although unsigned, this photograph is attributed to Charles Hellmuth, who, like Costigan, worked as an artist for a lithography business in New York City for many years. Dating to around 1925, it features an important element- the large wooden spinning wheel-which was prominently featured in the background along with Ida Blessin holding her young child in the foreground for the 1924 Costigan oil painting “Mother and Child“. This canvas gave him early fame, earning the Shaw Purchase Prize at the annual Salmagundi Club exhibition in New York City that year. (1.)

1. see: Mother and Child: oil on canvas: Christie’s Auction House: Lot 70: American Paintings, Drawings & Sculpture: March 16, 1995. The work sold for $31,050.00.

Ida Blessin: (Mrs. John Edward Costigan) ❉

Image Dimensions18.2 x 23.6 cm corner-glued

Support DimensionsDetail: 28.5 x 33.9 cm cream-colored cardstock