Women 's History Month: Spotlight on Martha Walter

03/16/2018     News and Film

In honor of Women 's History Month, Freeman 's is highlighting important women artists whose work has shaped their field.Impressionist Martha Walter was born in Philadelphia in 1875. She attended the Philadelphia High School for Girls, one of the oldest public schools for women in the country. Walter became a student at the University of the Arts, then known as the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, as well as the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where she studied under William Merritt Chase. While at the Academy, she received the prestigious Cresson Scholarship, which allowed her to travel to Europe to continue her education. She visited Spain, the Netherlands, and Italy, before enrolling at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in France. Finding the school 's classical approach too restrictive to her own burgeoning style, Walter left to enroll at the Académie Julian. Once again unenthused wih the teaching style, she formed her own studio along with other American women artists in the French capital at the time.Her work is defined by her vivid color choices and a luminous quality so representative of the French Impressionism she studied. Her intimate depictions of women—often mothers—and children earned her great critical acclaim beginning early on in her career, and was a theme which she returned to frequently. Her style was also profoundly influenced by Chase, her former professor. Upon her return to America, Walter kept a studio in New York, and taught at the New York School of Art, established by Chase. She traveled extensively, frequently returning to Paris, but also to Holland, Brittany, Tunisia, and Algeria, and later to Croatia and the east shore of the Adriatic. Much of her travel and livelihood as an artist came before women were even given the right to vote in the United States; to say Walter was a pioneer in her time would not be hyperbolic.This spring, Freeman 's will offer “Children in the Garden” (estimate $2,000-3,000), a delicate painting by the artist, as part of The Collection of Dorrance “Dodo” Hamilton. “Children in the Garden” presents a common scene from Walter 's oeuvre, two children ambling through a lush and verdant landscape. Each grasps a bouquet of wildflowers, the dappled sunlight landing on their bodies through the canopy of trees. The brushstrokes are quick daubs, leaves blending with sky and the soft flesh of each of the children, who appear almost as nymphs, gamboling in a glen. There is a gentle innocence and prevailing stillness to the scene, despite Walter 's characteristic brisk application of paint to the canvas.Works by Pennsylvania Impressionists continue to excel at auction, and Freeman 's is the only auction house to have sales dedicated to this seminal school of artists.Ready to consign?Speak to a specialist.