Welcome to the website for the Mathias J. Alten Catalogue Raisonné of oil paintings and
watercolors produced by this remarkable artist during a career that spanned nearly four decades.
This free-access site documents more than 2,000 known authentic works by Alten, and is an on-
going project with additional entries made as they are received and authenticated. During his
lifetime, it is estimated that this German-born artist completed close to 3,400 paintings. About sixty
percent of that number were painted in his adoptive home state of Michigan where he was
known as the "Dean of Michigan Artists". He however traveled extensively during his career
painting both in Europe and in America, and exhibiting widely at major American art institutions. His
life and career were well documented in the Grand Rapids Art Museum's 1998 major
retrospective: Mathias J. Alten - Journey of an American Painter and its accompanying 175 page
publication of the same name.
In Grand Rapids, Michigan, both Grand Valley State University and the Grand Rapids Art Museum
have major holdings of paintings by this academic impressionist artist. At Grand Valley's DeVos
Center on the downtown Pew Campus more than 70 paintings are on permanent public view in
the George H. and Barbara Gordon Gallery. Selected Alten paintings are on public display as part
of the permanent collection of the Grand Rapids Art Museum.
I wish to acknowledge the assistance given me by the many private collectors, museum directors,
art dealers, auctioneers, librarians, and others interested in seeing this project proceed. In
particular, I thank Celeste Adams, Director of the Grand Rapids Art Museum and Kathleen Ferres,
Registrar, for her patience and help in allowing me access to the extensive Mathias J. Alten
Archival records held by the museum. I am additionally thankful to Henry Matthews, Director of
Galleries and Collections, and his staff at Grand Valley State University, and to Alten family
descendents, especially Mathias Alten's granddaughter, Anita M. Gilleo. I further gratefully note
here that this project would not have been possible without the encouragement and support of
George and Barbara Gordon, generous philanthropists and long-time collectors of Alten's
In reflection, no single person has been more helpful to me in my research than Mr. Kim L. Smith,
Owner and Director of Perception Gallery in Grand Rapids. His support, passion for art, memory
and profound knowlege of Alten's work has been the single-most important asset upon which I
have drawn in developing this document.
James A. Straub