Mathias Joseph Alten
German-American, 1871-1938
Valencia, 1912
Oil on board, signed, dated, and titled lower right
Oxen and drivers with a boat in the Mediterranean surf, framed.

Proclaimed a "Second Generation-Impressionist" by William H. Gerdts, preeminent authority on American regional painting, Alten's range and prolificity - having produced over 3,000 works in a wealth of subject and style - spoke of the nomadic German's drive for traditional success in an artistic world on the brink of evolution. Alten's education in the craft began at the acclaimed Académie Julian and at the Académie Colarossi - his first accolade a gold medal awarded by the school for the best figure drawing. As early as 1905, Alten was fielding invitations from museum exhibits, among these, the National Academy in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Detroit Institute of Art.

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." Alten spent the first years of the century conquering Europe by ship, train, carriage, and sometimes mule: Paris in 1899, then the Hague School of Dutch artists, then the Netherlandic realms of the Maris brothers, Jozef Israëls, Willem Roelofs, van Gogh, and Piet Mondriaan, before touring Spain in the pursuit of the influence of Joaquín Sorolla.

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 12th, 1929, featured the showing with an article and a reproduction of one of Alten's Spanish marine scenes on its front cover. The esteem of his national recognition in tow, Alten never ceased to frequent noted art colonies such as Étaples, France; Old Lyme, Connecticut; Taos, New Mexico; Laguna Beach, California; and Tarpon Springs, Florida, though never settling in colony nor school or style. Fastidiously retained was a freedom of subject and influence, from still lifes to animals, portrait commission to southwestern scenes such as Valencia. Alten never succumbed to the encroaching Modernist fervor of his peers, and this conviction paid him handsomely, earning him gallery space alongside the likes of Childe Hassam, Edward Henry Potthast, Charles Russell, H.O. Tanner, Frederic Remington, Oscar E. Berninghaus, George Bellows, J.S. Sargent, E.L. Blumenschein, Thomas Eakins, William Merritt Chase, and William Wendt.

  • Sight: 11.1 x 15 1/4 in. (28.2 x 38.7 cm.), frame: 15 1/2 x 19 3/4 in. (39.4 x 50.2 cm.)
  • Artist Name:
  • Mathias Joseph Alten
  • Medium:
  • Oil on board, signed, dated, and titled lower right
  • Condition:
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