Welcome to the website for the Mathias J. Alten Catalogue Raisonné of oil paintings and
produced by this remarkable artist during a career that spanned nearly four decades.
This free-access site documents over 1,900 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
estimated that this German-born artist completed close to 3,800 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
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 40 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,
dealers, auctioneers, librarians, and others interested in seeing this project proceed. In particular,
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
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 paintings.
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 assett upon which I have drawn
in developing this document.
James A. Straub