Mathias Alten

Mathias Joseph Alten (February 13, 1871 – March 8, 1938) was a German-American impressionist painter lively in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Born in Gusenburg, Germany, Alten worked as an artist between 1890 and 1938. Although best known for his land- and seascapes he was in addition to an competent portrait, floral, and animal painter. William H. Gerdts, a pre-eminent authority upon American regional painting, describes Alten's style as that of a "second-generation Impressionist." Alten studied at the venerated Académie Julian and at the Académie Colarossi where he won a gold medal for the best figure drawing. As to the front in his career as 1905, Alten was subconscious invited to behave his paintings in museum exhibits. During his lifetime, his produce a result was exhibited at the National Academy in New York, The Chicago Institute of Art, the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Detroit Institute of Art and other smaller venues.

As catalogs from those abovementioned exhibits show, Alten's paintings hung along with the works of highly thought of artists such as Childe Hassam, Edward Henry Potthast, Charles Russell, H.O. Tanner, Frederic Remington, O.E. Berninghaus, George Bellows, J.S. Sargent, E.L. Blumenschein, Thomas Eakins, William Merritt Chase, and William Wendt – as well as those of his similarly distinguished friends - H.R. Poore of Old Lyme, Connecticut, and E.I. Couse of Taos, New Mexico.

According to Gerdts, "By 1898 Alten appears to have felt the craving for greater professional training and exposure … to more cosmopolitan experience in artistic craftsmanship and association." He made a number of voyages to Europe; first to psychiatry his craft in Paris (with the put happening to of wealthy patrons) in 1899. Then, attracted to the Hague School of Dutch artists, he spent 1910-11 energetic in the Netherlands amidst the settings favored by the Maris brothers, Jozef Israëls, Willem Roelofs, and even Vincent van Gogh and Piet Mondriaan's (Eng. "Mondrian") early work. Later, Alten fell under the move of the enactment of Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla. Several committed trips to Spain followed.

An exhibit of Alten's sun-drenched canvasses from the 1920s was held at the Holt Galleries in New York City. The Literary Digest for October 12, 1929, featured the showing bearing in mind an article and a reproduction of one of the Spanish marine scenes upon its tummy cover. This was perhaps the tall point of Alten's national recognition.

Alten's career entailed an astounding amount of travel; especially unquestionable the conditions at the time – sea voyages, less than luxurious trains, horse-drawn carriages ... even donkeys. He frequently visited noted art colonies such as Étaples in France; Old Lyme, Connecticut; Taos, New Mexico; Laguna Beach, California and Tarpon Springs, Florida. But, although Alten painted alongside fellow artists, he never became a resident aficionado of any artists' colony. Nor did he formally, by designation or choice, become a follower of specific "schools" such as the Fauves in France or the Ashcan School of the Depression era.

Alten continued his committed trips within the US without difficulty into the 1930s, traveling to both coasts, Florida, Taos and always within his beloved West Michigan. His subject thing was notably diverse; landscapes, still lifes, seascapes, animals and portraits - often of judges throughout Michigan, as competently as extra notables as far and wide as California and Oregon.

His style evolved in accordance with both the tastes of the era and his own preferences. He never felt pressure to veer into the overtly "modernist" style which artists of the generation after his frequently embraced.

Over the years, various local (West Michigan) arts-affiliated organizations named Alten as an honorary member. Regional and national organizations sought his attachment as well. By 1904, he had associated the pioneering Society of Western Artists, one of the era's most influential art organizations. And, in 1916, he was invited to become a believer of the National Arts Club in New York. In addition, Alten was a longtime advocate of Detroit's prestigious Scarab Club by which he was awarded a gold medal for his art in 1920.

According to James A. Straub, the compiler of his Catalogue Raisonne, Alten is often referred to as the "dean of Michigan painters." Alten died, at age 67, on March 8, 1938, at 1593 East Fulton Street in Grand Rapids, Michigan. That home is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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