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
University's George and 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 1,900 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,
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
companies, but the process apparently did not involve any direct supervision by the artist. Those reproductions
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 dates
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 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
Rapids Art Museum's holdings. The following acronyms are used in this catalogue:
AQC Aquinas College,
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,
been determined photographically by analysis of the paintings style, brushwork, support, dimensions,
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.
known handwriting found in those places has been a compelling authenticating factor. Recognition, investigation
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 and
magazine illustrations of the artist posing adjacent to his paintings have been useful.
It is noted here that as of 2012, 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 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.
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 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
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
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
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,
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 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 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
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,
announcements, manuscripts, inventories, DVDs and other media published or unpublished in which some
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.
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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. Exhibits eighty-six paintings and watercolors
at the Detroit
Museum of Art in December.
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
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
(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
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
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,
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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 (1938-1974). 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
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 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
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
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
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 Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, NY, May 1, 1901 - November 1, 1901.
Exhibit held in the Michigan Building. Detroit
Museum of Art, Paintings and watercolors, 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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
Traveling 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
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