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


American Martha Walter 1875-1976 Paints Breton Women at Market

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Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Meat Market Brittany

Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Six Peasant Women Brittany


Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Chicken Market Brittany No 4


Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Two Peasant Women Brittany


Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) At The Brittany Market 1921


Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Quimper Chicken Market Day in Brittany


Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Fish Market, Quimper in Brittany 1892


Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Town Meeting, Brittany


Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Fish Market, Doverney, Brittany


Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Fresh Fish, Brittany


Summer Women & Children - Martha Walter 1875-1976


Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Elizabeth Chapman

Our earlier posting on Martha Walter contained biographical information plus her bright summertime seaside paintings.  Here are some of her other portraits, mostly bathed in the warmth of summer.

Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Laughing Baby



Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Portrait



Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Red Haired Child



Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) The Conversation



Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Baby in High Chair



Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Woman with Veil



Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Children on Bench



Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Summer Sunshine



Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Baby in White



Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Lady Knitting in a Garden



Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Happy Baby



Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Afternoon in the Park



Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Children in Shade



Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Children with Japanese Parasols



Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Blonde Girl



Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Babe in Arms


Beach Holiday with American Martha Walter 1875-1976


Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) At The Beach

Philadelphian Martha Walter studied at the Pennsylvania Museum & School of Industrial Art, now The University of the Arts College of Art and Design. At the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, she studied with William Merritt Chase. She was the daughter of George H. Walter and his wife Martha Crawford, who lived in Philadelphia.  Martha lived at home through 1910.

Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) On The Beach

She attended the Grande Chaumiere in Paris & the Academie Julian. While she was in France, Eugene Boudin proved to be another strong source of inspiration for her. Many of Walter's beach scenes exhibit varying tones of gray. She then opened her own studio in the Rue de Bagneaux with several other young American women artists.

Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Pink and Purple Group

Upon her return to America, around the beginning of World War I, she favored the use of bright and intense colors as highlights in her beach scenes of Bass Rock, Gloucester and Atlantic City. Walter's influence throughout her career was chiefly derived from the work and teachings of William Merritt Chase.

Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Beach Umbrella

She journeyed to the very places where Chase had painted - Shinnecock, Carmel, Paris, Holland, etc. Martha Walter had a studio in New York, taught at Chase's New York School of Art and had a studio in Gloucester, and even taught in Brittany. She was continually traveling back and forth to Paris.

Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Crowded Beach

Walter visited Chattanooga, Tennessee, many times from 1903 to 1910, where she painted commissioned portraits and landscapes during the summer. In 1922, Martha Walter was given an exhibition of her paintings at the Galleries George Petit in Paris.

Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) La Plage

In the 1930s, she traveled to North Africa to paint her impressions of Tunis, Tripoli and Algiers. The harsh African sun lent the cafe scenes, camel markets, and souk transactions an intense but different color sense than her American and French subjects. From Africa, Walter traveled to the Dalmatian coast, where she settled for a long enough time to paint dozens of bustling market scenes.

Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Biarritz France

Walter taught at the New York School of Art (later the Parsons School of Design), founded in 1896 by her mentor Chase. She also conducted painting classes on the French coast in the province of Brittany, and in Paris and Chicago. During the early years of the 20th century, the artist began seeking out distinctive national and ethnic subject matter in Europe, North Africa, and at home. Together with her friend, the Columbus, Ohio artist Alice Schille (1869–1955), she dedicated her summers to traveling abroad, while spending the rest of the year painting in America. Walter, who never married, continued to paint well into her 90s, until a few years before her death in 1976.

Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Chairs at Brighton Beach


Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Beach People 1910



Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) At the Beach



Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) At the Beach



Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) At the Seashore



Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Bass Rocks



Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Bathers on the Beach, Bass Rocks



Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Crowded Beach



Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Gloucester Beach



Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Green Umbrellas



Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Group Under Yellow Umbrella



Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Hot Day at the Beach


Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Large Yellow Japanese Umbrellas



Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) The Bathers 1933



Martha Walter (American Impressionist, 1875–1976) Leaving the Beach