Robert Frederick Blum (9 July 1857 – 8 June 1903) was an American artist born in Cincinnati, Ohio.
He was employed for a time in a lithographic shop, and studied at the McMicken Art School of Design in Cincinnati, and at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, but he was practically self-taught, and early showed great and original talent.
He settled in New York in 1879. After 1880, he made many annual trips to Europe. He visited Japan in 1890 and spent three years there; he had been interested in that country and its art for many years.
His first published sketches of Japanese jugglers appeared in the St. Nicholas Magazine. His most important work is a large frieze in the Mendelssohn Music Hall, New York, Music and the Dance (1895). His pen-and-ink work for the Century Magazine attracted wide attention, as did his illustrations for Sir Edwin Arnold’s Japonica.
A Daughter of Japan, drawn by Blum and William Jacob Baer, was the cover of Scribner’s Magazine for May 1893, and was one of the earliest pieces of color printing for an American magazine. In Scribner’s for 1893 appeared also his Artist’s Letters from Japan. He was an admirer of Mariano Fortuny, whose methods somewhat influenced his work.
Blum’s Venetian pictures, such as A Bright Day at Venice (1882), had lively charm and beauty. His oil painting The Venetian Beadstringers (1889) was a popular work. He died on 8 June 1903 in New York City.
He was a member of the National Academy of Design, being elected after his exhibition in 1892 of The Ameya; and was president of the Painters in Pastel. Although an excellent draughtsman and etcher, it was as a colorist that he chiefly excelled.