Trees

WaltemathWilliam - Trees.JPG

Dublin Core

Title

Trees

Description

This work, as the title suggests, is of trees during the fall season: red, yellow, and orange colors of leaves on their skeletal forms depict a season of change. Rolling hills behind them likewise are changing color to more muted tones, the color of perhaps a dirt path. The sky is blue behind off-white clouds. A stone wall separates the trees from a grassy field in the foreground.

About the Artist: Born as August Fredrik Vilhelm Axelsen in Tönsberg, Norway, dire economic conditions there led to his immigration—at eight years old—to the US with his maternal aunt and her husband, Wilhelm Waltemath of Germany. That family settled in Minneapolis, MN, where William eventually began work as a printer. His paintings were exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Salons of America, and Society of Independent Artists, along with group and individual events. At a 1931 show in Baltimore, MD, the art critic Henry McBride wrote that Waltemath “commands rich pigment and has a sense of picture making, though his tendency is toward the somber.” By 1932, however, Waltemath’s professional and financial situation had suffered; he was one of a dozen New York painters selected for inclusion in a show featuring artists “who are for the most part unknown, indigent, or neglected” (“Unsung”). The Federal Art Project provided a crucial lifeline, for example in 1937 his work shown at a WPA exhibition along with fellow NDG artist Carl Nordell. He remained active in civic organizations, notably as chairman of the Art League of Nassau County. There is something moving to to a photograph of Waltemath with one of his paintings, where it’s revealed that he considers himself “a printer by trade and an artist because he insists on being one....He has been unemployed for some time, but refuses to allow that to halt his painting” (“An Artist”).

Sources Consulted: Henry McBride, “Some Foreign Impressions of Our Art,” Baltimore Sun 22 Nov. 1931: 66; “Unsung Artists Exhibit at Show on Heights,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle 3 Sept. 1932: 3; “An Artist—By Choice!” New York Daily News 10 Jan. 1937: 181.

Creator

Waltemath, William, 1876-1958

Publisher

Federal Art Project

Date

1935-1940

Contributor

Ritz, Abigail (photography)

Domon, Victoria (biography)

Cooper, Ken (biography)

Source

New Deal Gallery, Genesee Council on the Arts

Object #FA18284

Format

jpeg, 758 KB

Type

Still Image

Identifier

191

Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

Oil painting

Physical Dimensions

16 x 20 in.
Condition: surface dirt, pitted

Geolocation