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BALLIN, JOEL:

Danish engraver, born in Vejle, Jutland, March 22, 1822; died in Copenhagen, March 21, 1885. He was a son of a merchant, Joseph Ballin, and his wife, Hanne Peiser. At the age of eleven he went to Copenhagen to study art in order to become a painter; but his studies at the Academy of Art progressed slowly, as he was obliged to work for his living, and he was twenty years old when he entered the modeling class. The year before this he had exhibited his painting, "The Procession in the Synagogue at the Feast of Tabernacles." A new method of reproduction, "the chemitype," which was at that time invented, attracted Ballin's attention, as he hoped by the study of this specialty to secure himself a position in the world. In 1846 he left Denmark and went to Leipsic to finish his artistic education; but he soon saw that he had no prospect of reaching any degree of perfection in this branch of the art without a thorough study of engraving. Meanwhile he exhibited some samples of "chemitypes" which showed so much talent that the Danish government supplied him with sufficient means to go to Paris, where he arrived Oct. 5, 1848. He would probably never have left that city if the Franco-German war of 1870 had not forced him to move to London.

In Paris he finished the studies of engraving that he had commenced in Leipsic, and in 1850 exhibited two engravings. They attracted the attention of the Academy of Art in Copenhagen, and he received from that institution 600 rigsdaler a year for two years, and in 1853 from the Danish government 350 rigsdaler. This recognition helped to make his fame, and to place him financially in such a position that in 1853 he was able to visit Copenhagen and marry Helene Levin.

Ballin's first large engravings were Ostade's "Le Maître d'Ecole" and Jean Victor's "A Young Girl." His publishers in Paris preferred to have the engravings made on steel plates, as these could stand a larger number of impressions, and Ballin therefore adopted a new method for the hard plates—a method which he brought to such perfection that they could scarcely be distinguished from copper-plates.

He took the gold medal of the third class at the Paris exhibition in 1861; and in 1862 he was made a knight of the Dannebrog, after having exhibited a large collection of engravings at the Charlottenborg exposition, Copenhagen.

From 1870 to 1883 he lived in London, where he engraved Edward Long's "The Pool of Bethesda." This he sent to the Academy of Art in Copenhagen in acknowledgment of his election in 1877 to membership in that institution.

In 1883 Ballin was called to Copenhagen to become a teacher of young engravers and to reproduce important Danish works of art. He did not, however, live long enough to become the founder of any artistic school.

His most important engravings from famous paintings, besides those mentioned above, were Knaus's "The Baptism"; Gustave de Brion's "Saying Grace" and "The Wedding"; Protais' "Before the Battle" and "After the Battle"; and Carl Bloch's "Bishop Rönnow Protected by Hans Tavsen," and Marstrand's "Christian IV. on His Ship Trefoldigheden."

Bibliography:
  • Bricka, Dansk Biografish Lexikon.
S. L. N.
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