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BIOGRAPHY - Martha Walter (1875 - 1976)

Martha Walter was an American Impressionist painter from Philadelphia. She received her artistic training at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts starting in 1895. While at PAFA, she studied under William Merritt Chase, even spending the summers of 1899 and 1900 at his Shinnecock School on Long Island. Walter eventually won several awards at PAFA, including the prestigious Cresson Fellowship, which funded her travels to Europe starting in 1903. While in France, she received instruction at the Académie Julian and the Académie de la Grande Chaumière under artists like Émile-René Ménard and Lucien Simon. Walter set up her studio in Paris, where she was drawn to France’s northern beaches, where bourgeois and upper-class Parisians would escape during the summers. She became known for her beach scenes and seascapes created in Normandy and Brittany. On top of her beach scenes, Walter became known for her depictions of womanhood and childhood, not unlike her fellow Pennsylvanian Mary Cassatt. One 1918 catalogue from the Chicago gallery Young’s describes her as having a “happy faculty of grasping the subtle loveliness of babyhood”. In fact, you can combine her seascapes and her paintings of motherhood into the broader subject of leisure.

Walter remained in Paris until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, when she returned to the United States. Upon her return, she taught at several art schools in New York and Chicago before moving to Cape Ann in northeastern Massachusetts. Many American artists had moved to the same area, including Hermann Dudley Murphy, Emile Gruppé, and Stuart Davis. At these art colonies on the coast, American artists who had just returned from Europe became sources of innovation and inspiration for their compatriots. They had knowledge of the many new modernist styles emerging in Europe at the time, including Cubism, Expressionism, and the beginnings of Dada.

Walter traveled extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and North Africa before finally returning to Philadelphia in 1940.  She set up a studio and spent the next thirty-six years exhibiting at galleries in Philadelphia, Chicago, New York, and Chattanooga, Tennessee. Martha Walter passed away in 1976 at the age of 100 and is often named as one of the first great American female artists.

Museums (selected):

Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville, FL
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, TN
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA
Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago, IL
Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, PA

Summer Afternoon - Tuck\'s Point - Martha Walter
Martha Walter
(1875 - 1976)
Summer Afternoon - Tuck's Point
Oil on canvas
24 x 30 inches
Signed; also signed and titled on the reverse