James Straub is an independent art historian living in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mathias Altens
adoptive hometown for nearly half
a century. He has been documenting and compiling information on Altens life and paintings since
1982. He has served on the
Grand Rapids Art Museums Collections Committee, and wrote the artists Chronological Biography
for the museums 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
Barbara Gordon Gallery Advisory Committee. He has lectured extensively on Altens 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,
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:
SEARCH PAGE TIPS:
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
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
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 paintings 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,
College, Grand Rapids
DTIA Detroit Institute
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
KCAD Kendall College of Art and
Design of Ferris State University
KIAS Kalamazoo Institute
MMA Muskegon Museum of Art
MSCH Michigan Supreme Court Historical
MSU Michigan State
University - Kresge Art Museum
SHS Spectrum Health
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 paintings style, brushwork, support, dimensions,
signature, inscriptions and
dates. Close-up photographic examination of a paintings 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
handwriting found in those places has been a compelling authenticating factor. Recognition, investigation
and validation of the
works 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
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 Altens oeuvre.
In other cases, obvious
attempts have been knowingly made to present work not by Alten as being genuinely created by him. This
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
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
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.
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
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 Altens 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
Alten only infrequently titled his paintings. Titles written in Altens hand, however, have
occasionally been found in pencil or ink
on the paintings 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 artists 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 compositions 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 frames 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
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
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 paintings 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 paintings owner is not identified, and the
entry notes only that the work is in a
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 Altens 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 Altens 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,
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.
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.
(Grand Rapids Public Museum) and signs it "M. Alten," the signature he would use for virtually
all of his works throughout his
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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 Artists 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 Artists Daughters)
National Guard Armory, Flint, Michigan, July. (unveiling of
Portrait of Brigadier General Guy Wilson) Lansing Womans 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. (Californias Sycamores) Grand
Rapids Art Gallery, December. (Early Autumn, Gloucester Harbor, andCape Ann)
1932 One-artist show, Grand Rapids Art Gallery, November. (Thirty-five
1933 Detroit Institute of Arts, January 3-31. (Apache Chief?) Grand
Rapids Art Gallery, May. First Place, (Portrait of Patricia
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.
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
1938 Chicago Galleries, Chicago, February. Mathias Alten memorial Exhibition,
Grand Rapids Art Gallery, October 4-31. (eighty-
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.
1973 Hefners 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) Hefners Art Gallery, Grand Rapids, July 29-August. The Michigan
Exhibition of Paintings of Michigan Themes in Celebration of the states Sesquicentennial, Grand
Rapids Art Museum, August 3-31.
1987 An Exhibition Featuring Mathias Altens 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