Related Objects
Current Location:
George and Barbara Gordon Gallery -> Room 103 (DEV; E)
Location Notes:
DEV: 1st floor., Gordon Gallery

Mathias J. Alten: An American Impressionist ➔ Mount Hood, Oregon

Artwork
Identifier:
2007.605.1
Artist:
Alten, Mathias Joseph
Credit:
Gift of George H. and Barbara Gordon
Medium:
Oil on Academy Board
Date:
1909
Dimensions:
Artworks - Height: 12.25 in Width: 18.375 in
Description:
Landscape scene with six pine trees in the foreground, a village or farm community in the distance, and a white capped mountain further back. Light blue sky in the background. Signed and dated 1909 in lower right
Historical Context:
This was painted near Portland, Oregon while Alten was there during the summer of 1909 to paint commissioned portraits of the John Haak family. The canvas represents Alten's only known mountainous landscape composition.

Wikipedia Summary:

Mathias Alten (1871–1938) was an American impressionist painter from 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.

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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Mount Hood, called Wy'east by the Multnomah tribe, is a potentially active stratovolcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc of northern Oregon. It was formed by a subduction zone on the Pacific coast and rests in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located about 50 miles (80 km) east-southeast of Portland, on the border between Clackamas and Hood River counties. In addition to being Oregon's highest mountain, it is one of the loftiest mountains in the nation based on its prominence.

The height assigned to Mount Hood's snow-covered peak has varied over its history. Modern sources point to three different heights: 11,249 feet (3,429 m), a 1991 adjustment of a 1986 measurement by the U.S. National Geodetic Survey (NGS), 11,240 feet (3,426 m) based on a 1993 scientific expedition, and 11,239 feet (3,426 m) of slightly older origin. The peak is home to 12 named glaciers and snowfields. It is the highest point in Oregon and the fourth highest in the Cascade Range. Mount Hood is considered the Oregon volcano most likely to erupt, though based on its history, an explosive eruption is unlikely. Still, the odds of an eruption in the next 30 years are estimated at between 3 and 7 %, so the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) characterizes it as "potentially active", but the mountain is informally considered dormant.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathias_Alten;https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Hood
Getty Art and Architecture Thesaurus Terms:
landscapes
oil painting
oil paintings
Library of Congress Subjects:
Hood, Mount (Or.)