Martha Walter (1875-1976)
Born in Philadelphia in 1875, Martha Walter attended Girls’ High School followed by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. It was at the Academy that Walter’s artistic talent was discovered. An admiring instructor by the name of William Merritt Chase took young Martha under his wing, giving her both inspiration and direction. She additionally enrolled with Chase at his summer school in Shinnecock, Long Island and in 1903, was awarded the Cresson Traveling Scholarship by the Pennsylvania Academy. This sent Martha Walter on travels to France, Italy, Spain, and Holland, where she attended the Grand Chaumiere and the Academie Julian in Paris. Afterwards, she established a studio on the Rue De Bagneaux in France with several other American women artists. In 1909, Walter won the Mary Smith Prize from the Academy for a portrait she had painted while in Europe. At the onset of World War I, Martha returned home and began painting plein-air subjects, such as Ellis Island, the fishing village of Gloucester, scenes of cheerful children, and the quintessential American beach scenes which have brought her national acclaim.
Throughout her life, Walter continued to travel with great regularity capturing in oil and watercolor a wealth of landscapes and cultures across the globe. Martha lived a charmed life, keeping addresses in New York City, suburban Philadelphia, and Gloucester, while frequently traveling abroad. In her later years she became reclusive, not wanting to be disturbed by galleries and museums. After 1945, Martha spent most of her time in Huntingdon Valley and Glenside, Pennsylvania, where she enjoyed painting flowers from her garden. She never married and lived to the age of 101.
Martha Walter exhibited widely throughout her career, both nationally as well as internationally, and was the recipient of many prestigious awards.
Her work is in the collections of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Terra Museum, the Woodmere Art Museum, the Cheekwood Museum in Tennessee, the Toledo Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Detroit Institute of Art, the Milwaukee Art Center, the Musée d’ Orsay and the Musée Du Luxembourg in Paris, among others.
Source: New Hope for American Art, James Alterman