The Life of Martha Walter

Vose Galleries
Jun 14, 2019 8:27PM

Some may recall the 'Our Best to You' series, which Vose Galleries produced in 2002, 2008, and 2011. The series presented a notable selection of works of art from our inventory. We've decided to reinstate the series to celebrate works that we believe deserve special attention. In this edition, Vice President Marcia L. Vose writes about Martha Walter's The Swimming Pool, Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania. A significant contributor to the American Impressionist traditions and a pioneer for women artists of the time, Walter's works can been seen in numerous collections including the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Marcia Vose, Vice President

Martha Walter (1875-1976) graduated from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts under the tutelage of famed American Impressionist William Merritt Chase (1849-1916). She specialized in genre scenes, and The Swimming Pool, Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania stands among the best of these canvases. What is striking about this work is Walters' use of lavish, saturated colors to highlight the lush greens of summer. Painted on site (en plein air), there is a freshness and spontaneity rarely seen in works done in the studio. She has captured in The Swimming Pool many different ways of enjoying the scene, from picnicking under the shade trees to gossiping in the sunlight and shadows.

Many women of Walter's era, roughly 1875-1925, had to make painful decisions in order to become a professional artist: do they follow the tradition of marriage and children, or do they strike out of convention to devote themselves to the long process of becoming an artist through study, travel and exhibiting? A brave group of women artists, Walter among them, chose to forge their own artistic paths: attending specialized courses in art school in America and abroad, and then the requisite travel not only to Europe, but to distant locales in North Africa, the Middle East and Japan.

Martha Walter, The Swimming Pool, Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania (detail). Vose Galleries

After living in Europe for ten years, Martha Walter returned to the U.S., where she established studios in New York City and Gloucester, Massachusetts. She quickly became an active member of the art scene, including several years of teaching with her mentor, William Merritt Chase, at his art New York School of Art. Walter certainly became the pinnacle of success, having won major prizes and awards and living to see her art valued by collectors and museums.

To learn more about Walter's works and illustrious career, visit our website or see more works available on Artsy.

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