Winter Snow Scene
Walter Launt Palmber
Winter Snow Scene
Permanent Collection 2006.01.04
At the turn of the century, Palmer was being compared in a favorable manner to Claude Monet and John Henry Twatchman. In 1915, Palmer, then 61 years old, spent the summer in Gloucester Massachusetts, a habit he would continue for many years thereafter. His studio there was rather quanit and situated on Rocky Neck in Gloucester Harbor.
The "Boston Globe" described it in 1923 as one "which hangs down over the rocks and boasts an array of sky blue shutters... in this studio by the sea." He actually found the summer studio a boost to his art sales as many visitors who came to see stayed and actually bought paintings. He complained that visitors interupted him, but it was good for business. Prices at that time were about $200 each without frames for good sized pictures. It is said that one person bought three for a reduced price of $500.
Palmer kept meticulous records of all his paintings and sales. He became active in the local art colony and the local art associations, basking in his celebrity status. People and writers would remark that it was strange to see him sitting in his Gloucester Bay dock in the summertime while painting a snow scene. All the while the picturesque harbor's beauty was right in front of him. But he responded that he felt that it was no more inconsistent that many of his fellow artists who painted summer scenes in the dead of winter.
Walter L. Palmer died in his hometown Albany NY, on April 16, 1932 at the age of 78. After his death, his work fell out of favor and many museum de-accesioned his paintings in the years following WWII. Indeed, by the early 1960's, representational art was out of vogue. Collectors seemed to prefer cleam walls without paintings or modern art -- a sort of delayed reaction to the covered wall style of the Victorian period.
At age 24, he began his formal study of art with the artist, Frederick E. Church, the great Hudson Vallery painter. In the early and mid- 1870s Walter Palmer traveled and studied extensively in Italy and France. He studied with Carolus Duran in Paris. He studied the work of the impressionists as well as the expatriate American artists in Europe. He was a friend of John Singer Sargent and went on at least one sketching trip with Sargent. He also spent time with John Henry Twatchman, William Merritt Chase, Frank Duveneck, and Robert Blum.
Upon his return to the states in the late 1870's, he and Church rented a studio in NYC. They kept it from 1878 to 1881. Palmer first received major attention for his winter scenes in 1887 when he received the Second Halgerten Prize of the National Academy for his painting "January." This award is for outstanding young (under 35) artists with potential. The artists' use of blue shadow in the snow is considered on of the first uses of this technique.
He received the gold medal from the Philadelphia Art Club in 1894 and another gold medal from the Boston Art Club in 1895. More awards came from more prestigious Art Associations and his reputation continued to grow. His winter scenes became very popular, bus his scenes of Venice and interiors were also beautiful, sophisticated and desirable.
In the next 35 years, 1970-2005, the trend again reversed itself and the work of American Impressionist and realistic artists of the early 20th century have been rediscovered. Walter Lunt Palmer is now recognized as the excellent artist he always was.