Born Caspar Hjalmar Emerson III in New York City in 1911, and in 1946 legally changed his name to Hjalmar Amundsen in honor of his great-uncle, explorer Roald Amundsen, who located the center of the South Pole the year his great-nephew was born. Casper Hjalmar Amundsen III, who was also known as “Cappy,” used several aliases, one of which was F.H. McKay. His other pseudonyms included, J. J. Enwright, W. Hughes, Wm Ward, Jr., Sven Sagg, J.C. Bennett, J. C Bonac, John Dune, and others.
Cappy’s father, Casper Emerson, Jr. (1878-1948) was a renowned artist, famously known for creating “The Emerson Girl” for the Broadway Magazine in the New York Herald-Tribune. Born in 1911, Cappy learned much of his basic drawing and painting skills in his father’s studio. After graduating from Blair Academy, Cappy attended the Grand Central School of Art studying illustration and painting. In 1932, he founded the Washington Square Outdoor Art Show, along with Jackson Pollock, William de Kooning, Beaufort & Joseph Delaney and others.
As an adult, the young artist moved back to New York and spent time painting in and around Gloucester and Provincetown, Massachusetts. In his early career, he is believed to have created up to 275 paintings a year over a period of six years under the name of Enwright. Living in Greenwich Village, he was one of the founders of the Washington Square Art Show in New York, where he sold many of his works, and he painted covers for Motor Boating Magazine, which brought in $100 each. In 1946 he moved to Sag Harbor, Long Island, New York, with his second wife Nancy. Amundsen opened a studio and lived in the same building, becoming a well-liked figure in the community. He painted waterfront images, sailing ships, fishing boats, and the New England coastline. He died in Brookhaven Memorial Hospital on January 18, 2001.