Related Objects
Current Location:
GVSU -> On Loan
Location Notes:
GVSU Art Gallery Traveling Exhibit: Mathias J. Alten: American Artist at the Turn of the Century

Mathias J. Alten: An American Impressionist ➔ The Grand River

Artwork
Identifier:
2006.200.1
Artist:
Alten, Mathias Joseph
Credit:
Gift of George H. and Barbara Gordon
Medium:
Oil on Canvas, Laid on Board
Date:
1904
Dimensions:
Artworks - Height: 9.5 in Width: 13.25 in
Description:
Leafless trees in foreground, river behind and bright sunset in background.
Historical Context:
This striking painting of the Grand River was painted the same year as the largest flood in Grand Rapids history. In March of 1904, the Grand River reached a record breaking 19.6 ft, leading to extensive flooding that damaged 2,500 houses on the west side of Grand Rapids. The flood caused an estimated two million dollars in damages, or approximately 45 million dollars adjusted for inflation.

Wikipedia Summary:

Mathias Alten (1871–1938) was a German- American impressionist painter active in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Career

Mathias Joseph Alten worked as an artist between 1890 and 1938. Although best known for his land- and seascapes he was also an accomplished portrait, floral, and animal painter. William H. Gerdts, a pre-eminent authority on American regional painting, describes Alten's style as that of a "second-generation Impressionist." Alten studied at the acclaimed Académie Julian and at the Académie Colarossi where he won a gold medal for the best figure drawing. As early in his career as 1905, Alten was being invited to show his paintings in museum exhibits. During his lifetime, his work 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 aforementioned exhibits show, Alten's paintings hung among the works of acclaimed 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 need 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 study his craft in Paris (with the help of wealthy patrons) in 1899. Then, attracted to the Hague School of Dutch artists, he spent 1910-11 working 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 influence of the work of Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla. Several working 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 with an article and a reproduction of one of the Spanish marine scenes on its front cover. This was perhaps the high point of Alten's national recognition.

Alten's career entailed an astounding amount of travel; especially given 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 member 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 working trips within the US well into the 1930s, traveling to both coasts, Florida, Taos and always within his beloved West Michigan. His subject matter was notably diverse; landscapes, still lifes, seascapes, animals and portraits - often of judges throughout Michigan, as well as other notables as far afield as California and Oregon.

His style evolved in accordance with both the tastes of the times 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 membership as well. By 1904, he had joined the pioneering Society of Western Artists, one of the era's most influential art organizations. And, in 1916, he was invited to become a member of the National Arts Club in New York. In addition, Alten was a longtime member 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, in March 1938 at 1593 East Fulton Street in Grand Rapids, Michigan. That home is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. More information can be found on AskArt.com.

References

External links

  • Mathias J. Alten at American Art Gallery
  • Mathias J. Alten Papers at Grand Valley State University
  • Mathias J. Alten Digital Collection at Grand Valley State University
  • Mathias J. Alten Catalogue Raisonné by Jim Straub

Archives of American Art

  • Mathias Joseph Alten exhibition catalog, 1979
  • Mathias Joseph Alten scrapbook, 1920-1965
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Grand River may refer to:

Rivers

In Canada
  • Churchill River (Atlantic), known locally as the "Grand River"
  • Grand River (Ontario)
    • Grand River Raceway, Elora, Ontario, an entertainment, racing, and gaming complex named after the river
  • The Ottawa River was formerly known as the "Grand River"
In the United States
  • Grand River (Colorado), historical name (1836-1921) of the Colorado River above the confluence with the Green River
  • Grand River (Michigan)
  • Grand River (Ohio)
  • Grand River (Oklahoma)
  • Grand River (Wisconsin)
  • Grand River (Missouri) in Iowa and Missouri
  • Grand River (South Dakota) in North and South Dakota
  • Lower Grand River in Louisiana
  • The southernmost portion of the Neosho River in Oklahoma is also known as the "Grand River"
  • Rio Grande in U.S. and Mexico. "Rio Grande" means "Grand River" in Spanish.

Populated places

In the United States
  • Grand Rivers, Kentucky
  • Grand River, Ohio
  • Grand River, Louisiana
  • Grand River, Iowa
  • Grand River Township, Decatur County, Iowa
  • Grand River Township, Madison County, Iowa
  • Grand River Township, Wayne County, Iowa
  • Grand River Township, Sedgwick County, Kansas
  • Grand River Township, Bates County, Missouri
  • Grand River Township, Cass County, Missouri
  • Grand River Township, Daviess County, Missouri
  • Grand River Township, DeKalb County, Missouri
  • Grand River Township, Livingston County, Missouri
  • Grand River Township, Bowman County, North Dakota
  • Grand River Township, Perkins County, South Dakota
In Mauritius
  • Grand River, Mauritius

Other

  • Grand River Avenue is a road in Michigan that partially parallels the course of the Grand River in that state.
  • Grand River Collegiate Institute Kitchener, Ontario
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathias_Alten;https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_River