Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Immigration as seen by American Martha Walter 1875-1976

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Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Landing Room at Ellis Island, New York City 1922

America is a country of immigrants.  During the 1920s, American Impressionist Martha Walter (1875-1976), known for her carefree beach scenes, painted powerful views of immigrants entering the United States. In 1922, Walter spent months painting what became her most celebrated images, a series of 36 works depicting the thousands of immigrants kept in detention on Ellis Island, awaiting entry into the United States. In contrast to her happy beach scenes, the Ellis Island paintings portray the harsh realities of immigrant family life, especially the trials of mothers and babies. The dreadful, crowded conditions inspired a group of 22 paintings that were exhibited that year in the Galerie Georges Petit in Paris.  The French government selected one for the permanent collection of the Musée de Luxembourg. The series subsequently appeared in 1923 at the Art Institute of Chicago.


Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Just Off the Ship Ellis Island, New York City 1922


Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Waiting Room C Ellis Island, New York City 1922


Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Babies' Health Station No 4 Ellis Island, New York City 1922


Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Babies' Health Station No 14 Ellis Island, New York City 1922


Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Babies' Health Station No 5 Ellis Island, New York City 1922


Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Babies' Health Station, Ellis Island, New York City 1922


Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Babies' Health Station, Ellis Island, New York City 1922


Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Czech Immigrants, Ellis Island, New York City 1922


Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Italian Section, Detention Room, Ellis Island, New York City 1922


Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Italian, Jewish, and Yugoslav Mothers and Children Waiting, Ellis Island, New York City 1922


Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Italians in Detention Room, Ellis Island, New York City 1922


Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Jewish Mothers and Babies, Ellis Island, New York City 1922


Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Jews and Slavs Waiting, Ellis Island, New York City 1922


Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Just Off the Ship, Ellis Island, New York City 1922


Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Waiting Room Ellis Island, New York City 1922


Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Crowded Detention Room, Ellis Island, New York City 1922


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