Contact Information - (Scroll down for Catalogue Guide, Chronology and Exhibitions)  

Irises, 1900

James A. Straub
Grand Rapids, MI
Telephone: (616 293-9639)

Submissions of authentic Alten paintings for inclusion in this catalogue are welcome. If you have higher quality images or more data regarding any painting shown here, please contact me via either of the routes noted above.


James Straub is an independent art historian living in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mathias Alten’s adoptive hometown for nearly half a century. He has been documenting and compiling information on Alten’s life and paintings since 1982. He has served on the Grand Rapids Art Museum’s Collections Committee, and wrote the artist’s Chronological Biography for the museum’s 1998 exhibition publication Mathias J. Alten – Journey of an American Painter.  He has served on the Art Advisory Committee for the Grand Rapids based, Spectrum Health Systems. He is currently a member of Grand Valley State University's  George and Barbara Gordon Gallery Advisory Committee. He has lectured extensively on Alten’s work in oil and watercolor and is a member of the Catalogue Raisonné Scholars Association.

This website has been developed for scholarly research purposes and for collectors and other admirers of Alten's work. None of the paintings included are being offered for sale through this site. The site further makes no comment on present value, condition, or past conservation history.

The catalogue documents more than 2,000 known authentic paintings in oil, watercolor and pastel completed by Alten during his lifetime. It is by no means comprehensive in that many paintings in his known oeuvre remain unlocated. Not included are pen and ink sketches, pencil renderings, and charcoal drawings. Alten was not a printmaker, and thus, no etchings, lithographs, monotypes or other images in the print medium appear here.  Photomechanical reproductions of several Alten paintings are still extant today having been produced both in color and black and white by early Grand Rapids printing companies, but the process apparently did not involve any direct supervision by the artist. Those reproductions are therefore not included except when such an image is the only existing representation of the original work.

The following offers usage tips and explanations of terms and citations used in this catalogue:


The critical search fields are:

Subject Matter: Here, searches may be performed when one is trying to locate paintings fitting several descriptive terms such as Landscape, Formal Portrait, Marine, Beach Scene, etc.

Locale: The venues where the artist painted. This field includes “Other” for use when the locale is unknown or where the paintings place of origination is not apparent.

Medium: Alten painted in oil, watercolor, and gouache. Occasionally, a combination of mediums including watercolor, and gouache for example, may be found to be appropriate search criteria. This field includes the support, if known at the time of the works inclusion in this corpus. The support may have been changed from the time when the work was first inspected. An oil recorded here as being on loose canvas, may later have received conservation attention, and found to be an oil on canvas on board. Tip: An easy way to search under medium is to enter “oil” or “watercolor" in the Keyword Field. This will bring up all watercolors even those where gouache was used.

Year Range: Researchers wishing to locate all paintings completed during a specific period should enter the sought year dates under “From and To.” Because of the mechanical requirements of the site, dates that have been assigned as “circa” are indicated with a “c” following the date noted. It is therefore necessary to add a year on each end in the “From and To” boxes. One searching for all paintings completed during 1910, for example, should enter 1909 in the first box, and then 1911 in the second. Although this will bring up superfluous paintings, the search will result in having work with circa dates inclusive.

Height and Width: Here, for example, searchers seeking paintings with dimensions of 26 x 32 inches should enter “26” in the first “from” height box, and then again in the second (“to”) box. The dimension of “32” should similarly be entered twice, “from” and “to”.

Keyword: This is a powerful search engine entry. Paintings may be located that have, for example the words, “autumn” the word, “gentleman” or the word “oxen” in their titles. Careful effort has been made to ascribe titles containing words that may be regarded as keywords, thus enhancing easier searching efforts. As noted above, the painting’s medium may also be successfully searched under the Keyword search box.

Additionally, collections held by certain entities may be accessed by typing the acronym for that public or business entity in the Keyword box. Examples would be GVSU for the Grand Valley State University collection and GRAM for the Grand Rapids Art Museum's holdings. The following acronyms are used in this catalogue:

AQC             Aquinas College, Grand Rapids

CC               Calvin College, Grand Rapids

DTIA             Detroit Institute of Arts

GRAM          Grand Rapids Art Museum

GRPL           Grand Rapids Public Library

GRPM          Grand Rapids Public Museum

GVSU           Grand Valley State University  Mathias J. Alten - Digital Collection

JPMC          JPMorgan Chase & Co., Grand Rapids

KCAD           Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University

KIAS             Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

MMA            Muskegon Museum of Art

MSCH           Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society

MSU             Michigan State University - Kresge Art Museum

SHS             Spectrum Health Systems

TCLS           Thomas M. Cooley Law School

A vast majority of the paintings entered in this inventory have been personally inspected by me, by Mr. Kim L. Smith of the Perception Gallery, or by both of us. In those instances where such an inspection has not been possible, authenticity has been determined photographically by analysis of the painting’s style, brushwork, support, dimensions, signature, inscriptions and dates. Close-up photographic examination of a painting’s stretcher bars or other support has been an aid when titles have been discovered handwritten or found typed/handwritten on known Alten-used labels affixed thereupon. The artist’s known handwriting found in those places has been a compelling authenticating factor. Recognition, investigation and validation of the work’s purported provenance and review of inventory and exhibition records have also been helpful avenues followed in establishing authorship. Additionally, vintage photographs, held by Alten descendants, and similar newspaper and magazine illustrations of the artist posing adjacent to his paintings have been useful.

It is noted here that as of 2009, approximately twenty paintings have been discovered that are of questionable authenticity. In some instances those works have simply been innocently misattributed as being part of Alten’s oeuvre. In other cases, obvious attempts have been knowingly made to present work not by Alten as being genuinely created by him. This has been accomplished in most instances by affixing fraudulent signatures sometimes on the recto and sometimes on the verso surface of the work. Often, these signatures are amateurishly contrived. Often too, the quality of the work suffers as being aesthetically mediocre. No images or records of paintings of such questionable authenticity are presented in this catalogue.

Although the artist signed most of his pictures, there are many that he never signed. Some have been authenticated in the past by Alten family descendants. Those are frequently accompanied by signed letters of authenticity. Other unsigned works have been evaluated here through the use of the varied resources previously noted.

This inventory, as with every online catalogue raisonné, is a dynamic document, and changes of opinion regarding authenticity can and should be made when evidence presents a compelling argument for such change. As such, no absolute warranty is made regarding the authenticity of any painting included in this catalogue.

Images used in this catalogue have been derived from several sources. Many have been digitally photographed in color, some scanned from auction and exhibition catalogues, magazines, slides, negatives, microfilm and transparencies. Private owners have provided pictures of their paintings via email attachments and some have been downloaded from sites already extant on the Internet. In most instances, cropping has been necessary in order avoid key-stoning when paintings have been photographed at severe angles, and to provide the most comprehensive rectangular composition for this site. Frames have been cropped-out where they appear in photographs; however where the original painting is ovate, computer-generated frames have been added during photo-editing in order to satisfy the mechanics of this site. Photo-editing in general has been kept to a minimum.

Images are provided here as they are found to exist regardless of quality. Early twentieth century painting illustrations, such as those drawn from newspapers and magazines are invariably found in black and white and are so shown.

When colors in available photographs have been found to be so vastly distant from Alten’s known palette, the image has been converted to black and white. Although every effort has been made to provide accurate reflections of true color, in all cases every image appearing on this catalogue site should be regarded as being representational rather than authoritative.

Alten only infrequently titled his paintings. Titles written in Alten’s hand, however, have occasionally been found in pencil or ink on the painting’s stretcher or other supportive backing.  When it is clear that such titles are indeed Alten-authored, then that primary-source title is used in this catalogue.

Some titles have been drawn from typed or handwritten exhibition labels affixed to the verso of stretchers on the artist’s work. Sometimes too, white-colored paper labels, four or eight-sided with red trim have been similarly found. Such labels were applied by family members making inventories of extant, unsold paintings after the deaths of both Alten and his wife Bertha. These inventories were composed for estate purposes, and the labels often reflect inventory numbers and sometimes asking prices in addition to titles. When a painting have been popularly known by a certain title by generations of Alten family descendants, that title is used unless it conflicts with a more primary title source.

Additionally, some titles used in this assemblage have been taken from printed auction catalogs, vintage exhibition catalogs, announcements or museum records.   Alternate titles are noted in this catalogue raisonné for purposes of clarity.

Most titles for paintings found in this catalogue however, have been assigned primarily for purposes of providing descriptive wording regarding the composition’s subject matter, and secondarily in order to offer keywords within those titles to ease computer- researchers in locating specific works.

Painting sizes indicated in this catalogue are always noted with the vertical or height measurement first, followed by the horizontal or width dimension. Occasionally, noted sizes have been found to be incorrect when private owners have made the measurements, and have not included that portion of the composition hidden behind the rabbet of the frame. Sometimes too, such provided sizes have erroneously included the frame’s dimensions. Every effort has otherwise been made to indicate sizes in this catalogue to the closest sixteenth of an inch.

From his earliest paintings until his last, Alten most often signed his work as "M. Alten". On paintings completed during an era from about 1890 until about 1909; however, his signature has frequently been found with all of the letters having a distinctively left-handed slant. That style sometimes varied though as he occasionally applied that signature in more of a block-style with the letters exactly upright or vertical on more formal pictures such as his monumental Hollyhocks, 1897 (MIFL80).

Infrequently, Alten signed with the initials M.A. only. Although rare, such initialed pictures have been discovered on both oil and watercolor pictures. Sometime during or after 1909, the artist seems to have abandoned the left-slanted style and began to apply an extended tilde or wavy line beneath his name. During the teens that line often began with a hook then curved downward to a more horizontal plane. On later paintings, such as on those executed in Tarpon Springs (1935), the entire line flattened somewhat and assumed a posture with less flourish.

Throughout his career his signature varied with the application of serifs at the ends of brushstrokes, and varied too with the extent of elongation on the second leg down stroke on both the letters M and A.

A majority of Alten paintings are signed, however some are not. It cannot be assumed that if the picture is not signed, then it was left unfinished. It cannot be assumed that if unsigned, the artist was unsatisfied with the composition. There are Alten family accounts in which it has been said that Mathias sometimes simply forgot to apply his signature, and had to be reminded to do so.

The paintings in this catalogue have been dated in two ways. First, Alten frequently inscribed dates on his paintings until about 1921. After that year, with the exception of portraits, he rarely dated his work. The thought has been that about that time he recognized that potential buyers of his work were most interested in collecting his very latest and thus, perhaps, best work. Visitors at his exhibitions seeing work that was dated perhaps a year or two prior, might have been of the opinion that for some reason previous buyers had decided to not to purchase a particular painting, and therefore the work might not have been his best. Although that thinking was likely flawed, Alten seems to have then decided to eliminate inscribing dates. In a few instances too, it is evident that Alten clearly overpainted some previously inscribed dates.

Although the elimination of dates on his canvases probably helped with sales, it has caused problems in establishing precisely when a piece was completed.

This has lead to a second, albeit somewhat of a subordinate, method of determining the genesis of a work, and that has been through a subjective analysis of painting style, paint application, canvas size, signature appearance, and a general understanding regarding what subject matter he was painting when and where. It is known for example, that although seemingly none of his Tarpon Springs, Florida paintings were dated, they were in fact all finished when he visited there in 1935. The 1935 date can then be confidently ascribed to the marine pictures he finished there.

It is helpful to know as well that as Alten progressed through his more mature years, he began applying less pigment to the canvases. Gone for the most part were the paintings of the teens with their thick impasto and lavish evidence of palette knife use.

Still, the process of accurate dating continues to evolve as more is learned about his oeuvre. More research is needed for example, in order to be able to distinguish the 1922 Spanish pictures from those he painted while visiting Spain for a third time in 1928. To date, no reliable method of differentiation has been found.

When a painting’s present whereabouts or its ownership history is known, it is so indicated in this catalogue. This entry documents that historical record with the most recent owner being listed first, then proceeds through its past ownership as far as it is known. Often, there are known gaps in ownership citations.

When a work is privately held, as are most, the painting’s owner is not identified, and the entry notes only that the work is in a “Private collection.”

When the citation indicates that a specific painting is or was “with” a dealer then that work may have been consigned to, owned, or formerly owned by that dealer. Presently, both the Perception Gallery in Grand Rapids, Michigan and The Grand Gallery in Ada, Michigan deal in Alten’s work. Other dealers noted historically under provenance history have been The Hefner Gallery, The Hefner Galleries, The Hefner Art Shop, The Bergsma Gallery, and Imperial Masterpieces, all of which are now defunct.

When Alten’s work is owned by a public museum or institution where viewing accessibility is public or quasi-public, then those establishments or organizations are identified. All venues holding major collections are identified.

This catalogue notes Alten exhibitions with the most recent being cited first, and then proceeds through known past exhibitions. Minor exhibitions, such as those including, for example, only one or two paintings, are not indicated. Although during his career Alten offered many exhibitions in his own Grand Rapids working studios or home studio, they were primarily for sale purposes and are thus not recognized here.

Citations under this heading include, books, magazines, newspapers, indexes, archives, catalogs, exhibition announcements, manuscripts, inventories, DVDs and other media published or unpublished in which some reference has been made to a particular work. If the work is therein illustrated, it is usually noted.


1871 Mathias Joseph Alten is born on February 13 in Gusenburg, Germany (then a Prussian state), Rhine Province, to Michael Alten and Maria Kyllburg Alten.  As a result of the father's profession as a schoolmaster, the Alten family lives in several towns in Germany. Alten later claims the large city Trier as his hometown.

1876-84 Alten family lives in Marpingen, Germany.  Mathias earns some money drawing portraits, particularly of the Kaiser, for soldiers stationed at Marpingen.  Troops are quartered there by the Prussian government for the purpose of controlling the crowds of Catholic pilgrims drawn to the area by the thousands as the result of a reported apparition of the Virgin Mary there in July 1876.  There are no crayons or watercolors available to him in his village, so he depends upon the chalk used by millers in marking their sacks and often raids his mother's supply of laundry bluing for his watercolor.  He draws a portrait of Crown Prince Frederick, which he sells along with a copy of a wood engraving to the Countess de Wendel.  Additionally, he sells a landscape drawing to his village priest, who, having studied art himself, encourages the boy to continue, but also to obtain a trade.

1885-88 Apprentices to Joseph Klein as a painter and paperhanger in April 1885.  Paints ecclesiastic subjects on ceilings and walls in Roman Catholic churches and other subjects for theaters. Receives apprentice certification signed by Klein.

1888-89 Is employed by Joseph Klein as a painter.

1889 Immigrates to the United States with his parents, brother John, and sister Katherine aboard the steamship Pennland, departing from the port of Antwerp, Belgium, on January 12 and arriving in New York on January 25.  The family settles for a short time with relatives in Ferrysburg, Michigan.  In April, they move to the west side of Grand Rapids, then heavily populated by German immigrants. Alten obtains work as a decorator in local furniture factories.

1891 While employed by Charles C. Nooneman during 1891-92, paints decorations for the Rathskeller, a German brew house at 90 Canal Street in Grand Rapids.  Probably begins instruction under, and works for, Edwin A. Turner (1854-99), a Muskegon artist who conducts classes in Grand Rapids.  Likely still under Turner's tutelage, Alten paints a copy of Rembrandt's Portrait of a Nobleman (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.).  Boards at 136 First Street.

1892 Boards at 219 First Street.

1893 Works as a painter for Miller and Middleton, house decorators and dealers in fine wallpapers, 114 Monroe Avenue.  Boards at 99 Jackson Street.  Gives Longfellow's Poetical Works to Bertha L. Schwind and inscribes it, "1893-Merry Christmas-M. Alten."

1894 Works for Charles C. Nooneman.  Boards at 223 Bowery Street (now Douglas Street).  Continues art instruction under E. A. Turner at 23 Fountain Street.

1895 February 9, marries Bertha L. Schwind; Charles Gibson, pastor of the Peoples Church in Grand Rapids, officiates.  The couple operates Schwind and Alten, a paint and wallpaper store at 32 West Bridge Street, formerly owned by Bertha's father, Ferdinand (who died May 9, 1894).  Alten advertises himself as a "Scenic Artist" and designs an academically drawn advertisement for Schwind and Alten reading, "Sign writing in all its branches.  Church and frescoing in any style of ornamentation.  Theatrical work a specialty." Schwind and Alten advertisements appear in Germania, a Grand Rapids German-language newspaper.  Bertha's mother, Theresa Kuenzel Schwind, maintains a partnership in the business.

1896 Continues with his wife and mother-in-law at Schwind and Alten.  Enters work in the Michigan State Fair competition and supplements income with prize money.  Daughter Ella (later called Eleanore) is born December 1.  About this time, Alten works for David W. Kendall at the Phoenix Furniture Co., where he decorates furniture in the Rookwood style.  Paints Chrysanthemums (Grand Rapids Public Museum) and signs it "M. Alten," the signature he would use for virtually all of his works throughout his career.

1897 Continues at Schwind and Alten. Paints Hollyhocks (Spectrum Health Systems)  Continues to exhibit at state fair competitions. winning prize money.  Account books for Schwind and Alten for the years 1897-98 list "artists’ materials, pictures and bronzes" as part of the stock on hand."

1898 Continues at Schwind and Alten at least until the end of August, after which the firm's account books no longer contain entries. Germania advertisements for the business last appear in the June 15 issue.  Paints local landscapes and still lifes, including a watercolor Basket With Peaches and Plums (Private Collection).  Paints Goats (Private collection) a watercolor.  Becomes a United States citizen on November 1.  On the same day, he applies for a passport for European travel.  A second daughter, Camelia, is born November 13.  On November 28. a passport is issued to Alten and he leaves in late December for art study in Europe.

1899 Enrolls at the Académie Julian in Paris where he studies academic painting under Jean Benjamin-Constant. Jean-Paul Laurens, Rene Prinet, and Louis Girardot.  Later he enrolls at the Académie Colarossi, where he wins a gold medal in figural drawing.  His address in Paris. as taken from the cover of his sketchbook, is 29 Avenue de Maine.  Louisa Dot, of 73 Rue de Cherche-Midi, is his model.  He also attends the afternoon sketch class at Whistler's academy.  In the summer, he travels, paints, and visits galleries in the Vatican, Rome, Florence, Naples, Genoa, Turin, Herculaneum, Siena, and Alexandria.  Returning to France, he visits Paris and its environs and paints landscapes and peasants, especially along the coast near Etaples.  He paints The Cavalier (Private collection) and Madonna and Child (location unknown) in Paris. In June, his former teacher, E. A. Turner, dies in Grand Rapids.  After painting the greater part of the summer in France, he visits and paints in Holland and Belgium.  In September, he returns home.  In October he and another artist, Constant L. Fliermans, open a studio and art school at 66 Pearl Street, Grand Rapids, occupying the same rooms where E. A. Turner maintained his studio. Tuesdays and Friday evenings are devoted to drawing from the nude.  Alten  continues teaching evening art classes in Grand Rapids for the next twenty-five years.  In November, he acts as a judge for the second exhibition of the Grand Rapids Camera Club.  He continues his friendship with local photographers, especially Carl Bjorncrantz, throughout his life.

1900 Continues teaching and painting at 66 Pearl Street studio.  A landscape canvas from this period (Voigt House Historical Museum) has the words "M. Alten Studio 66 Pearl St." stamped within an oval on the verso. In early summer, he paints Irises (Grand Valley State University) In July, he paints walls and ceilings of the Grand Theater in Grand Rapids.  A newspaper account describes the ceiling and wall decorations as wreaths of roses with "cupids and female figures pelting one another with roses," adding that above the boxes are "painted figures of the muses of music and history, one on each side." Another newspaper, reporting on the reconstruction of the fire-damaged Turner's Hall on Jefferson Street, notes, "M. Alten provided the stage decorations and they have been done in a magnificent manner."  Exhibits and wins prize money at the Michigan State Fair, in Comstock Park.

1901 Paints Cows in a Landscape (location unknown). In December, he paints the stage scenery for the Landwehr Hall, a Grand Rapids social club for German American. Exhibits at the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, NY, May 1, 1901 - November 1, 1901. Exhibit is held in the Michigan Building.

1902 Exhibits in January at the Toledo Museum of Art, Second Annual Exhibition. Paints in the fall at Old Lyme, Connecticut, and, possibly for the first time, becomes acquainted with Henry Rankin Poore (1859-1940), who has relatives in Grand Rapids.

1903 Exhibits Morning (location unknown), painted in Old Lyme, and Rocky Soil, Lyme (Private collection) in January at the National Academy of Design, New York.  A third daughter, Viola, is born on October 19.  Moves his studio to 75 Monroe Avenue, above the Heystek and Canfield Company.  On December 29 he exhibits Husking Corn (location unknown) at the Society of Western Artists show at the Art Institute of Chicago.

1904 A review in the April issue of International Studio describes Alten's Husking Corn as "a solid frank rendering of a simple country motive."  Completes Robin Hood and Ivanhoe murals for the F. P. Wilcox home on College Avenue at Fulton Street, designed by Grand Rapids architect W. R. Clarke.  Paints Picnic at Macatawa, an Alten family scene.  Exhibits five paintings at the Bissell House in Grand Rapids, along with other Grand Rapids artists, including Forrest Emerson Mann (1879-1959) of the Grand Rapids Arts and Crafts School of Design, who becomes the artist's longtime friend and travel companion.  Holds a large exhibition of paintings at his studio at 75 Monroe Avenue.

1905 Exhibits one painting, In the Gravel Pit (Private Collection), at the National Academy of Design.  Exhibits a watercolor. Regatta Day at Macatawa (Private Collection), at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in the spring.  Holds a large exhibition in his studio at 75 Monroe Avenue.

1906 For his newly built home on the northeast corner of Hope Street and Fuller Avenue, Alten paints murals in the vestibule and decorates the walls and ceiling with his own mosaic tile work and decoration.  The dining room includes a copper and stained-glass electrolier designed by Forrest E. Mann.  Stained-glass panels (Grand Rapids Art Museum), clearly inspired by a Tiffany design, are installed in the bay window on the west side of the home.  The second floor includes a studio with a panel of northern lighted windows and a model's stand.  Alten's daughters later recall that he worked on the window design with drawings and scrap pieces of glass when the family lived on Bowery Street (now Douglas Street).  The Grand Rapids Art Glass company assists with leads and other assembly materials.  Holds a December exhibition at his Monroe Avenue studio, including in it The River Road, Pasture Lands, An Autumn Wood, and Saint James Church (locations unknown).  In the same show, a painting titled Brain and Brawn (Tim Qualey the Toiler) (location unknown) describes a Grand Rapids blacksmith at his anvil.

1907 Philippe Fontaine of Boston purchases Brain and Brawn and books it for exhibitions in large stores in Chicago. Indianapolis, Detroit, Toledo, and Columbus.  Paints Gathering Pumpkins at Sunset (Grand Valley State University). Paints the raging fire of September 1 at the Valley City Brick Company at East Bridge (later Michigan Street) and Fuller Avenue from a sketch he made atop a nearby hill only blocks from his home at Fuller Avenue and Hope Street.

1908 Exhibits sixty-five paintings, including Christ and Nicodemus and Descent from the Cross (locations unknown), at the Ryerson Library in Grand Rapids.  Exhibits two paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago, Cutting Cabbage (location unknown) and The Color Mixer  (Private collection) the latter a portrait of his studio assistant, Robert Rouse, mixing paint pigments in a bucket.  Paints Fish Scaler (Private collection) with Rouse again as model.  On December 5, Alten holds an exhibition of thirty paintings, in the rotunda of the Morton House Hotel in Grand Rapids.

1909 On June 17, Alten and his wife are in Portland, Oregon, where he fulfills a commission to paint portraits of former Michigan lumberman John H. Haak and his wife, daughter, and son.  Haak purchases Alten's The Gravel Pit (location unknown).  Alten paints a still life of roses in a basket in an outdoor setting and inscribes it, "Portland."  He exhibits at a local art store in Portland.

1910 Paints Road Builders at John Ball Park (location unknown) in the spring.  Paints one of several versions of Saint Mark's Church (Grand Rapids Art Museum).  Alten and Colonel George Briggs serve on a judging and purchasing committee to select paintings for the soon-to-be-established Grand Rapids Art Association.  Alten continues to serve many years on the acquisitions committee.  On June 14, he is named an honorary member of the Grand Rapids Art Association, a membership he holds for his lifetime.  Between June and August he finishes work on the two large murals, The Sources of Wealth and The Uses of Wealth (Both Grand Rapids Art Museum), for the Grand Haven State Bank building.  He leaves for Europe with his wife, three daughters, and his student Norman S. Chamberlain (1887-1961), sailing on August 24 aboard the Campania of the Cunard Line.  In Holland he paints people, homes, canals, seascapes, and landscapes.

1911 In January, Dudley Waters donates Alten's The Color Mixer and Alten, then painting in the Netherlands, donates Milking Time (location unknown) to the Art Association's fledgling collection of twelve paintings, which are first exhibited at the Ladies Literary Club in Grand Rapids.  In late January, the Grand Rapids Art Students League elects Alten an honorary member.  In the spring, Alten travels with his family to Scheveningen, a quaint fishing village and resort on the North Sea.  There he paints the huge work horses that haul the large herring boats to the seashore.  Alten later boasts that while he was in the Netherlands he "painted every day but one, and then it was too cold."

In April The Sources of Wealth and The Uses of Wealth are installed in the Grand Haven State Bank, which holds its grand opening on June 3.  Before returning to the United States, Alten takes the family on a trip to Belgium, France, Switzerland, and Germany.  They return in late summer on the Kaiserin Augusta Victoria of the Hamburg America Line, the family to Michigan and the artist to Old Lyme, Connecticut.  There he paints several autumn scenes over a three-month period and exhibits them at the Lyme Art Association.  He occupies the barn-studio of Will Howe Foote (1874-1965), a Grand Rapids native and early member of the artists' colony founded in Old Lyme by Barbizon-style painter Henry Ward Ranger (1858-1916).  Alten paints Thoroughbreds (location unknown), a canvas depicting a farmer atop a wagon pulled by oxen, which he inscribes "Lyme," as he did with most of his canvases painted there. 

Back in Grand Rapids in November, he takes a temporary studio at 100 Godfrey Building.  On December 5, the Grand Rapids Art Association holds a one-artist exhibition of his works at the Saint Cecilia Building.  Seventy-one paintings, largely reflecting his work in Holland and at Old Lyme, are presented.  Professor George B. Zug of the University of Chicago photographs several of Alten's canvases for use in his slide lectures.  Alten exhibits a version of Salt Haying (Location unknown) at the Art Institute of Chicago.

1912 On March 12, the Grand Rapids Art Students League gives a going away party to honor Alten.  Having become impressed with the work of Spanish artist Joaquin Sorolla, he sails to Spain on March 16 on the Princess Irene of the North German Lloyd, accompanied by his friend Forrest E. Mann and an unidentified New York sculptor.  By March 23 he is in Tangier where he paints at least two watercolors. On April 3 he is in Seville.  In a letter from Valencia dated June 13 to his wife Bertha, Alten relates that he has completed twenty-three canvases.  During his seven-month stay, he calls on Sorolla at his home in Madrid only to find that he is away. While in Spain he attends a single bullfight and, having a fondness for animals, says later, "Needless to say I did not attempt any pictures on such a revolting subject."  By October, Alten sails home from Bremen.  His pictures of Valencia include images of oxen pulling fishing boats in brilliant sunlight.  He arrives in Grand Rapids on October 17.  After this trip to Spain, his palette never again returns to the dark tonality of the past.  Later in the year, he exhibits Shell Fisher (location unknown) at the Art Institute of Chicago.

1913 Listing his studio address as 86 Wonderly Building, Grand Rapids, Alten exhibits a watercolor, Valencian Fisher Boats (Private Collection), at the Art Institute of Chicago.  He instructs life-drawing classes for the Grand Rapids Art Students League in a studio over Peck's Drug Store.  He exhibits fifty-nine pictures, including The Blue Dome (Private Collection) and Toilers of the Sea (location unknown), at the Grand Rapids Art Association's nineteenth exhibition, held at the Saint Cecilia Building in April   He hand-carves and gold-leafs picture frames during the winter months of 1912-13; some are especially designed for the pictures they contain. He purchases a home at 1593 East Fulton Street on a land contract sale dated July 12 and he carves a design in the stone below the mantel and at both sides of the living room fireplace.  In August, he is interviewed by Edward Alden Jewell, art critic for the Grand Rapids Herald, and later for the New York Times. During the interview, Alten reveals that after returning from Spain, he revisited the few Sorolla paintings in the Metropolitan Gallery in New York, paintings he had earlier “looked at almost with reverence” and confessed that he had become “less enthusiastic over the achievement of Sorolla” then finding his pictures “less remarkable.” Returns to Old Lyme in the fall, and paints a watercolor and gouache autumn street scene, which he inscribes "Lyme" and dates 1913.

1914 Serves with Forrest E. Mann as a juror for the Fifth Annual Exhibition of pictures by local artists, held at the Ryerson Library in Grand Rapids in March.  Exhibits two paintings-Changing the Plow (Private Collection) and The Old Tower Clock (Private Collection) at the National Academy of Design; among the jurors for the exhibition are Cecilia Beaux, William Merritt Chase, Daniel Garber, and Edward Potthast.  Exhibits at the Grand Rapids Art Association in April.  Several of Alten's paintings are reproduced as color lithographs for a 1915 calendar printed by Dickinson Bros. of Grand Rapids.

1915 Paints Division and Monroe Avenue, Grand Rapids (Private Collection).  Exhibits Portrait of Von Platen Jr. (Private Collection) at the National Academy of Design, and The River Bend (location unknown) at the Art Institute of Chicago.

1916 Exhibits a Michigan landscape titled Reflections (Private Collection) at the National Academy of Design.  During the teen years of the twentieth century, while war rages in Europe, Alten produces most prolifically in the genre of the Michigan landscape.

1917 Paints Self-Portrait, By Himself (JP Morgan Chase & Co.) in which he wears a Red Cross pin in his lapel as a reflection of his wartime allegiance.  Although anti-German sentiment is evident in Grand Rapids, as elsewhere in wartime America, it seems to have little effect on Alten or his work.  He exhibits Portrait of Justice Robert M. Montgomery (Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society) at the Art Institute of Chicago.  Paints The Last Load, later titled Three Horse Team (Private Collection).  Paints Old Fountain Street Church Burning (Fountain Street Church) after sketching the scene during the fire.  Draws a charcoal self-portrait for the November 4 issue of the Grand Rapids Herald and signs it with conjoined "M" and "A" enclosed in a circle.  The Herald article notes that Alten is working as an instructor for the Grand Rapids School of Art and Industry in his studio above Peck's Drug Store.  Exhibits fifty-three canvases at the Grand Rapids Art Association, including July Memories (Private Collection), picturing his daughter Camelia on horseback and her friend Lucile Cusick nearby.  In December, Alten conducts well-known landscape painter George Gardner Symonds (1863-1930) on a tour of the Grand Rapids area, pointing out picturesque places to paint.

1918 On March 18 exhibits The Model and Late Autumn (locations unknown) at the Scarab Club in Detroit.  Exhibits Self-portrait (Private Collection) at the Art Institute of Chicago.  Exhibits at the Milwaukee Art Institute in June.

1919 Paints Kite Flyers (also called Boys Flying Kites) (Calvin College, Grand Rapids) and a companion piece.  Is commissioned to paint a full-length posthumous portrait of Lieutenant George Hollister, a young Grand Rapids man who was killed in action in France during World War I.  In order to paint the portrait, Alten hires a sitter about Hollister's size and poses him in a military uniform of the type worn by the soldier.  A photograph is used to paint the facial features, and Alten requests numerous photographs showing the hands as well as the face.  He uses this procedure many times in later years for commissioned, posthumous portraits of the Michigan judiciary and others, such as that of a woman who died in the Titanic disaster.  In late November, Alten holds an exhibition of sixty canvases in the Ashton Building in Grand Rapids.  Included in the show is The Country Church at Ada  (Private collection).

1920 His daughter Viola's friend Ida Mae Harveson poses for The Dancer (location unknown).  The picture is exhibited at the Saint Louis Art Museum.  In December, Alten wins a gold medal at the Scarab Club in Detroit for his group of three paintings titled Self- Portrait (Private Collection), Portrait of Mrs. Halow (location unknown), and The Dancer.  Simultaneous to the Scarab Club show, he exhibits forty-one canvases at the John Hanna Galleries in Detroit.  Exhibits The Brook (Private Collection) and Self-Portrait at the National Academy of Design.  Paints a picture of a factory worker, which is used as the cover illustration for The Commonwealth: A Magazine for Workers

1921 Paints Rain (Grand Rapids Art Museum) a picture of a nude in a landscape, and dates it 1921 (Alten seldom dates paintings, with the exception of portraits, after this year).  Rain is exhibited at the Scarab Club with two other pictures.  On May 3, Alten is named an honorary member of the Grand Rapids Furniture Designers Association.  Paints and dates a portrait of himself in which he wears pince- nez glasses; he inscribes the title Pintor (Spanish for painter or artist - Grand Rapids Art Museum), possibly in anticipation of his 1922 trip to Spain. Paints six compositions for reproduction as cover illustrations for The Commonwealth: A Magazine for Workers.

1922 Secures a passport on January 27 for himself and his wife, and travels in March with a student, Grand Rapids-born Foster Jewell (1893-1984), to Spain.  Both he and Jewell paint at Valencia, Alten this time using larger canvases.  He then travels inland to Sagunto to paint peasants and village scenes.  These pictures are often inscribed "Sagunto."  He returns after spending several months in Europe.  Wins second prize at the Detroit Institute of Arts Founders Society exhibition in December for his picture Old Woman of Sagunto (Bergsma Gallery).  Exhibits A Hot Summer Day (Private collection) and Valencian Peasant (locations unknown) at the Art Institute of Chicago.

1923 Exhibits Portrait of J. A. Klise (location unknown) at the Grand Rapids Art Association's exhibition of Michigan artists held in March; five paintings at the Scarab Club in Detroit; Entrance to Calvaria (location unknown) at the National Academy of Design, and Calvaria (likely the same painting as Entrance to Calvaria) at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.  Paints Boiling the Floats (Dennos Museum Center, Traverse City, MI) at Manistee, Michigan.

1925 Exhibits several Spanish scenes in April at the Southby Salon, Los Angeles.  This is a one-artist show that was negotiated by Alten's daughter Eleanore, who had traveled to the West Coast to promote and sell her father's paintings.  Paints Portrait of Bishop Edward Kelly (Grand Valley State University), Bishop of the Grand Rapids Diocese; the dimensions of the portrait are to the precise protocol for a seated bishop.  Exhibits thirty paintings in November at the Grand Rapids Art Gallery, including Pear Blossoms (location unknown) as well as the then partially completed family portrait The Artist's Daughters (Grand Rapids Art Museum).  Paints an oil illustration of a newsboy for the 1926 Grand Rapids Press calendar.

1926 Exhibits The Artist's Daughters at the Detroit Institute of Arts in January.  Completes Portrait of Brigadier General Guy Wilson (Michigan National Guard Armory, Flint), which is exhibited briefly at the Detroit Institute of Arts and then withdrawn, apparently at the consignor's request; it is subsequently unveiled in July at the National Guard Armory in Flint, Michigan, where Wilson was being honored.  Exhibits thirty-seven paintings, including Sassafras and Sumac (location unknown) in November at the Lansing Woman's Club in Lansing, Michigan.

1927 In February, Alten completes Portrait of the Right Rev. Joseph Gabriel Pinten (Grand Valley State University).  Exhibits twenty paintings, including Noonday Meal (Private collection), at the Milwaukee Art Institute in May.  In June, Norman Chamberlain, Alten's former student, is in Grand Rapids for a month-long exhibition of his French paintings at the Grand Rapids Art Gallery.  Chamberlain announces that he will be traveling after the show to paint in New Mexico.  It is likely that he and Alten travel together to Taos in July. There Alten paints more than forty canvases depicting Native Americans (Taos and Apache) as well as landscapes and adobe dwellings in the Taos valley.  He also paints Irving Couse's Garden (Grand Rapids Art Museum) at the adobe home of his friend Eanger Irving Couse (1866-1936), one of the founders of the Taos Society of Artists.  Paints lndian Scouts, alternatively, Riders (Private collection).

1928 Exhibits Smoking Apache (Grand Rapids Art Museum) a Taos picture, at the National Academy of Design.  Travels to Spain with his student Kreigh Collins (1908-1974).  They go their separate ways in North Africa.  In July, while Alten is overseas, the Grand Rapids Art Gallery exhibits a variety of his paintings, including those completed in Spain, New Mexico, and Michigan. Gertrude Sligh of Grand Rapids lends Alten's portrait of herself (Private collection, NH) to the exhibition.  It is one of many such portraits that Alten painted through the years.  His daughter Eleanore Alten Gilleo, acting as his business agent and salesperson, secures commissions for several portraits of Michigan Supreme Court judges, including Justices Ernest Snow, John E. Bird, and Richard C. Flannigan.

1929 Exhibits in one-artist show at Holt Galleries, New York, February to March. Alten and his wife attend the February 11 reception. In February Alten travels with his wife to Hollywood, Florida, where he paints bathing beauties under colorful beach umbrellas.  A young Grand Rapids woman, Helen Balbach, coincidentally vacationing there, poses for several of the canvases.  Paints two portraits of Judge Walter H. North (one was acquired in 1996 by the Kalamazoo Institute of Art, and the location of the other is unknown).  Later he travels to Southern California and paints several scenes of waves crashing on rocks at Laguna Beach.  Likely he visits and paints with Norman Chamberlain, who had settled in Laguna Beach.  The October 12 cover of the Literary Digest features a reproduction of a Spanish painting that had been in the Holt Galleries show.

1930 Exhibits two beach scenes at the Grand Rapids Art Gallery in May and a similar painting at the Scarab Club in June.  Exhibits Laguna Seascape (Private Collection), The Sea Nymph (Anita M. Gilleo Trust), and Sacred Garden (Private collection) in the annual December show at the Grand Rapids Art Gallery.  Exhibits a Laguna Beach scene at the National Arts Club in New York in the fall.

1931 Travels to New York in January with apparent intent to sail for Europe, but returns home for unknown reasons.  Travels to New England in the fall.  In December, he exhibits three paintings at the Grand Rapids Art Gallery: Cape Ann , Gloucester Harbor (locations unknown), and Early Autumn (Private Collection).

1932 Lectures in March on the George Inness exhibition at the Grand Rapids Art Gallery.  In July, he and his wife travel to Glen Haven, Michigan.  Exhibits thirty-five pictures at the Grand Rapids Art Gallery in November, including Portrait of Dudley E. Waters (Private Collection), depicting a longtime patron, and Atlantic Surge (location unknown), possibly painted in 1931.  On December 6, Alten speaks to the Grand Rapids Furniture Designers Association oil the modern movement in art.

1933 In May, Alten wins first prize for his Portrait of Patricia Moore (Private Collection) at the Grand Rapids Art Gallery.  In October, he gives a lecture at the Women's City Club on the subject of modern German art.  In December, he exhibits at his home studio.  Included are a canvas painted in California picturing Foster Jewell under a spreading sycamore tree, California Sycamore, alternatively titled Resting  (Grand Rapids Art Museum) and portraits of his granddaughters Anita and Dianne (Private Collections).

1934 Travels to Los Angeles to paint Portrait of Fred Weber (Location unknown) formerly of the Weber Showcase company of Grand Rapids.  While in Southern California, he paints several views of Spanish missions; these are later featured in the May/June issue of the Grand Rapids Mirror magazine.

1935 Travels to Tarpon Springs, Florida, in the summer and paints the Greek sponge fishers and their boats.  Paints several pictures at Leland, Michigan, including End of the Pier (Private Collection).  Paints two portraits of school leaders at Grand Rapids South High School, which are presented to the school as gifts from the graduating class.  All of these pictures as well as several autumn landscapes are exhibited in December at Alten's home studio on East Fulton Street.

1936 Exhibits Self-portrait (also titled Self-portrait in a Blue Shirt; Private Collection) at the Grand Rapids Art Gallery in January, and then at the Art Institute of Chicago.  Exhibits at his home studio in November, showing, among others, Gulls of Leland (Private Collection).  In a letter of December 9 to Alten, Robert C. Vose, of the Robert C. Vose Galleries, Boston, writes, "I have just seen the exhibition of Michigan Artists-and thought your 'Morning' the best picture there-even though I am not partial to nudes.”

1937 Alten judges a show at the Detroit Institute of Arts in November.  Paints autumn and early winter landscapes in rural areas surrounding Grand Rapids.  In December at his home studio he exhibits Birches in Winter (Grand Rapids Art Museum) Autumn at Brower Lake (location unknown), and other pictures.

1938 Exhibits Michigan landscapes and Florida marines at the Chicago Galleries, Chicago, February 5-26.  On March 8, he dies of a heart attack at his home, 1593 East Fulton Street.  A tribute written by Rose Kozak (a former student) reads as follows: "March 8, 1938 Mr. Alten passed away this morning.  Somehow it seems strange and depressing-He has always been more or less in the background of my art life, for thirty years since I first saved three dollars for a month's tuition at his night school. He was a great artist and an outstanding personality.  Thru his own perseverance he went for and lived a life full of achievement.  May he find a new palette!"

Note: The Mathias J. Alten Home and Studio in Grand Rapids was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on June 23, 2009.


1896  Michigan State Fair.

1897  Michigan State Fair.

1899  Académie Julian, Paris.  First Honorable Mention for mythological painting. Académie Colarossi, Paris.  Gold medal for figural drawing.

1900  Michigan State Fair, Comstock Park, Michigan.  Prize

1901  Detroit Museum of Art?  December?

1903  Seventh-eighth Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, New York,
January 3-February 1.  (Morning and Rocky Soil) Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts,
Philadelphia (Husking Corn). Indiana State Fair, three watercolors and an oil still life (wins prizes for all). Eighth Annual Exhibition of the Society of Western Artists, Art Institute Of Chicago, December 29-January 24,1904.  (Husking Corn)

1904  Michigan State Fair. Tenth Annual Exhibition of the Society of Western Artists, Cincinnati Art Museum, February 25-March 13. (Husking Corn) Eightieth Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, December 31-January 28, 1905.  (In the Gravel Pit)

1905  Second Annual Philadelphia Water Color Exhibition, April 3-29, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.  (Regatta Day at Macatawa) Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition, held under the auspices of the Portland (Oregon) Art Association at the Museum of Art.  (Regatta Day at Macatawa) Eleventh Annual Exhibition of the Society of Western Artists, Art Institute of Chicago, December.  (A Portrait in Grays [Portrait of Caroline Campbell])

1908  One-artists show, Ryerson Library, Grand Rapids, February.  (sixty-five paintings including Descent from the Cross and Christ and Nicodemus) Twenty-first Annual Exhibition of Oil Paintings and Sculpture, Art Institute of Chicago, October 20-November29. (Cutting Cabbage and The Color Mixer) One-artist show, Morton House Hotel, Grand Rapids. (thirty paintings)

1910  Fifth Annual Exhibition of Selected Paintings by American Artists, Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, May 1-September1.  (Hauling the Boulder)

1911  Ladies Literary Club, Grand Rapids, January.  (The Color Mixer and Milking Time)  Lyme Art Association, Old Lyme, Connecticut, in the fall. Twenty-fourth Annual Exhibition of  American Painters and Sculptors, Art Institute of Chicago, November 14- December 27.  (Salt Haying) One-artist show, Grand Rapids Art Association, Saint Cecilia Building, December 5-9 (Seventy-one paintings were listed in the exhibition brochure; seventy-eight were actually exhibited.)

1912  Sixteenth Annual Exhibition of Work by Artists of Chicago and Vicinity, Art Institute of Chicago, February 1-28.  (Shell Fisher)

1913  Twenty-fifth Annual Exhibition of Watercolors by American Artists, Art Institute of Chicago, March 25-April 17.  (Valencian Fisher Boats) One-artist show, Grand Rapids Art Association Gallery, Saint Cecilia Building, April 30, for two weeks.  (fifth-nine paintings) Fall Exhibition of the Michigan State Federation of Art, beginning October 20 at Ann Arbor and touring to Saginaw, Bay City, Jackson, Detroit, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, and Muskegon.  (Beaching the Fishing Boat)

1914  Eighty-ninth Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, March 21-April 26. (Changing the Plow and The Old Tower Clock) Michigan State Federation of Art exhibition at the Grand Rapids Art Association, April.

1915  Ninetieth Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, March 20-April 25. (Portrait of Von Platen Jr.) Twenty-eighth Annual Exhibition of American painters and Sculptors, Art Institute of Chicago, November 16-January 2, 1916.  (The River Bend)

1916  Ninety-first Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, March 18-April 23. (Reflections)Grand Rapids Art Gallery, Popular Prize. Scarab Club, Detroit, December?  (The Grain Fields, Henrietta, Reflections, andThe Village Church?)

1917  Thirtieth Annual Exhibition of American Painters and Sculptors, Art Institute of Chicago, November 8-January 2, 1918  (Portrait of Judge Montgomery) One-artist show, Grand Rapids Art Association, December 6-31.  (forty-four paintings)

1918  Scarab Club, Detroit, March 18-31.  (The Model and Late Autumn) One-artist show, Syracuse (New York) Museum of Fine Arts, April.  (forty-four paintings) One-artist show, Prudden Gallery, Lansing, Michigan.Milwaukee Art Institute, June.  (twenty paintings including July Memories andThe Village Church) Thirty-first Annual Exhibition of American Painters and Sculptors, Art Institute of Chicago, November 7-January 1,1919.  (Self-Portrait)

1919  Annual Exhibition for Michigan Artists Under the Auspices of the Scarab Club, Detroit Institute of Arts, December 3-31.  Second Prize.  (Portrait of Judge Knappen

1920  Saint Louis Art Museum. Ninety-fifth Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, April 6-May 9. (The Brook and Self Portrait) Annual Exhibition for Michigan Artists Under the Auspices of the Scarab Club, Detroit Institute of Arts, December 1-31.  Gold medal for group of three paintings. (The Dancer, Self-Portrait, and Portrait of Mrs. Halow) One-artist show, John Hanna Art Galleries, Detroit, December.  (forty-one paintings)

1921  Detroit Institute of Arts, April 20-May 31.  (The Brook) Annual Exhibition for Michigan Artists Under the Auspices of the Scarab Club, Detroit Institute of Arts.  December?  (Rain, April Clouds, and The Artist’s Wife)

1922  Detroit Institute of Arts, April 11-May 31.  (Springtime at Coldbrook) Thirty-fifth Annual Exhibition of American Painters and Sculptors, Art Institute of Chicago, November 2-December 10.  (A Hot Summer Day and Valencian Peasant) Annual Exhibition for Michigan Artists Under the Auspices of the Scarab Club, Detroit Institute of Arts, Founders Society, December.  Second Prize.  (Old Woman of Sagunto)

1923  Ninety-eighth Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, March 17-April 15.  (Entrance to Calvaria) Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. (Calvaria (or Calvaria, Sagunto))

1924  Annual Exhibition for Michigan Artists Under the Auspices of the Scarab Club, Detroit Institute of Arts, February 4-29.  (Calvaria, Uplands, Un Valenciano, At the Well, and The Artist’s Daughters?)

1925  Annual Exhibition for Michigan Artists Under the Auspices of the Scarab Club, Detroit Institute of Arts, February 2-28.  (Haying Time) One-artist show, Southby Art Salon, Los Angeles, April. One-artist show, Grand Rapids Art Gallery, November 30.  (thirty paintings)

1926  Detroit Institute of Arts, January.  (The Artist’s Daughters) National Guard Armory, Flint, Michigan, July.  (unveiling of Portrait of Brigadier General Guy Wilson)  Lansing Woman’s Club, Michigan, November 12.  (thirty-seven paintings)

1927  One-artist show, Milwaukee Art Institute, May.

1928  Annual Exhibition for Michigan Artists Under the Auspices of the Scarab Club, Detroit Institute of Arts, January 4-31.  (Whistling Indian) One Hundred and Third Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, March 21-April 8.  (Smoking Apache) One-artist show, Ainslie Galleries, Fisher Building, Detroit, April 1-13. (twenty-five paintings) One-artist show, Grand Rapids Art Gallery, July and August.

1929  Detroit Institute of Arts, January 4-31. (Cabañal?) One-artist show, Holt Galleries, New York, February 11-March 2. Michigan Supreme Court, Lansing, Michigan, June.  (presentation of the Portraits of Justices Snow, Bird, and Flannigan) Allied Artists of America Exhibition, Grand Rapids Art Gallery, November.

1930  Annual Exhibition for Michigan Artists, Detroit Institute of Arts, January 3-30. (Portrait of Dr. Wishart) Scarab Club, Detroit, June. (a beach scene) National Arts Club, New York, fall? (a Laguna Beach scene)

1931  Annual Exhibition for Michigan Artists, Detroit Institute of Arts, January 2-February 1.  (California’s Sycamores) Grand Rapids Art Gallery, December.  (Early Autumn, Gloucester Harbor, andCape Ann)

1932  One-artist show, Grand Rapids Art Gallery, November. (Thirty-five paintings)

1933  Detroit Institute of Arts, January 3-31.  (Apache Chief?) Grand Rapids Art Gallery, May.  First Place, (Portrait of Patricia Moore)

1934  Annual Exhibition for Michigan Artists, Detroit Institute of Arts, January 5-28 (Nude in Repose)

1935  Annual Exhibition for Michigan Artists, Detroit Institute of Arts.  (Self-Portrait)

1936  Annual Grand Rapids Artists Invitational Exhibition, Grand Rapids Art Gallery, January. Forty-seventh Annual Exhibition of American Painters and Sculptors, Art Institute of Chicago, October 10-December 6.  (Self Portrait) Annual Exhibition for Michigan Artists, Detroit Institute of Arts, November 10-December 13.  (Morning)

1937  Invitational exhibition, Grand Rapids Art Gallery, January.  Award for Technique. (Self-Portrait) Detroit Institute of Arts, November 16-December 20.  (Birches and Violets, Egyptian Lotus, and Portrait of Judge?)

1938  Chicago Galleries, Chicago, February. Mathias Alten memorial Exhibition, Grand Rapids Art Gallery, October 4-31. (eighty-eight paintings)

1947  Memorial Exhibition of Paintings by Mathias J. Alten (1871-1938), Grand Rapids Art Gallery, presented by the Friends of American Art, April 14-May 15.

1953  Fremont Foundation, Fremont, Michigan, September 15-November 1.

1971  Retrospective, Grand Rapids Art museum, December 26-January 10,1972. (seventy paintings)

1973  Hefner’s Art Gallery, Grand Rapids, December 3-January 15,1974.

1979  Bergsma Gallery, Grand Rapids. (twenty-three paintings)

1983  Bergsma Gallery, Grand Rapids, November 5-December 3.

1984  Exhibition of the Bergsma Gallery collection, Center Art Gallery, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, September 23-November 3, touring to Adrian College, January 7-25,1985; Kresge Art Center, March 1-21, 1985; Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, March 28-April 28, 1985; and Central Michigan University in autumn.

1986  Purdue University, Krannert Drawing room, West Lafayette, Indiana, March 17-May 3.  (thirty-one Alten paintings on loan from the Bergsma Gallery collection) Hefner’s Art Gallery, Grand Rapids, July 29-August. The Michigan Experience—A Traveling Exhibition of Paintings of Michigan Themes in Celebration of the state’s Sesquicentennial, Grand Rapids Art Museum, August 3-31.

1987  An Exhibition Featuring Mathias Alten’s Small Paintings and Miniatures by other Gallery Artists…., Bergsma Gallery, Grand Rapids, February 6-March 14.

1990  The Art in Embassies Collection, Villa Taverna, Italy, February 21,1990-1992. (eight Alten paintings selected by U. S. Ambassador to Italy Peter F. Secchia and Mrs. Secchia) Flowers in Art, Krasl Art Center, Saint Joseph, Michigan, June 27-August 5. (Three Sisters in an Orchard)

1991  Retrospective, Mathias J. Alten (1871-1938), Muskegon Museum of Art, June 28-September 1.  (forty-four paintings)

1992  Michigan Masters from the Permanent Collection, Grand Rapids Art Museum, February 25-March 22.

1993  Michigan Artists 1900-1960, Perception Gallery, Grand Rapids, November 12-January 8, 1994.

1996  Preview exhibition of the permanent installation of The Sources of Wealth andThe Uses of Wealth, Grand Rapids Art Museum, May 23.

1998  Mathias J. Alten: Journey of an American Painter, Grand Rapids Art Museum, October 16-January 24, 1999.

2000  Grand Rapids Art Museum, “Unending Frontier: Art of the West," September 29 - December 31, 2000 (Smoking Apache).

2008  The Muskegon Museum of Art, "Sunlight in a Paintbrush," May 1 - Ausust 1, 2008, Picnic at Macatawa (Grand Valley State University) and Valencian Fishermen (Private collection).


Allied Artists Professional League-member

Chicago Galleries Association-member

Grand Rapids Art Association-honorary lifetime member

Grand Rapids Art Students League-honorary member

Grand Rapids Furniture Designers Association-honorary member

National Arts Club-associate member

Scarab Club Detroit-member

Society of Western Artists-member






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