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Martha Walter   Click Images to Enlarge

Martha Walter
La Rocia Fiesta
Watercolor on paper
10 x 14 in.
Martha Walter

(American, 1875-1976)

Martha Walter was an exceedingly successful painter during her life and she is one of the most sought after female American Impressionists. She was born in 1875 in Philadelphia and was one of William Merritt Chase's most promising students at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (where Walter was a 1908 Cresson Traveling Scholar). By the time she studied with Chase, Walter had trained in Paris in 1903 at the Académie Julian and the Académie Grande Chaumière and had scrutinized the finest canvases of Degas, Pissarro, Monet, Boudin and other French masters and she gravitated to painting portraits of women and children and carnival and beach activity (for which is the most famous).

Martha Walter was a member only of the National Association of Women Artists (1914) and a Fellow at the PAFA because she did not have the time to socialize. All she wanted to do was paint. She exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1904 and at PAFA Annuals from 1905-1945 (winning the Mary Smith Prize in 1909 and a gold medal in 1923). Other favorite exhibition halls were the Corcoran Gallery (Washington, DC), the National Academy of Design, Art Institute of Chicago, Milch Galleries (NY) and more. She was given solo exhibitions at the Cincinnati Art Museum (1914), Galeries Georges Petit, Paris (1922), the Woodmere Art Museum (1955, including an "Ellis Island" series), a retrospective at David & David, Philadelphia (1977) and solo exhibitions (1978, 1986) and the National Arts Club in Washington, DC (1985).

Walters won many awards including prizes at PAFA and the National Association of Women Artists. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Toledo Museum of Art; the Cincinnati Art Museum; Norfolk Luxembourg Museum, Paris; the PAFA; Milwaukee Art Institute; Art Institute of Chicago; Detroit Institute of Art; Musée d'Orsay, Paris and many more.

Walter is best known for her brightly colorful, spontaneously laid down impressionistic beaches scenes and views of Ellis Island. As one of the most desirable plein-air American artists at the turn of the century, she was inspired by friend Rene Menard and Lucien Simon and from her Parisian studio along the Rue de Bagneaux she painted beach activity at St. Malo, Biarritz, Deauville, Dinard, St. Jean de Luz and Trouville. After WWII, she returned to the U.S., maintained studios in NYC and Gloucester (MA) and painted Cape Ann, Coney Island, Atlantic City painting with Anne Carleton, Mabel May Woodward, Jane Peterson, Theresa Bernstein and others. When she died in 1976, she was a respected plein-airist worldwide.


References: "Who's Who in American Art," American Art Annuals (1946-1957); Who Was Who in American Art, volume 3; "Impressionist Jewels, the Paintings of Martha Walter," retrospective exhibition book, Philadelphia Art Museum, 2002