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 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
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
The catalogue documents more than 2,000 known authentic paintings in oil, watercolor and pastel completed
by Alten during his
lifetime. It is by no means comprehensive in that many paintings in his known oeuvre remain unlocated.
Not included are pen and ink
sketches, pencil renderings, and charcoal drawings. Alten was not a printmaker, and thus, no etchings,
lithographs, monotypes or
other images in the print medium appear here. Photomechanical reproductions of several Alten paintings
are still extant today having
been produced both in color and black and white by early Grand Rapids printing companies, but the process
apparently did not involve
any direct supervision by the artist. Those reproductions are therefore not included except when such
an image is the only existing
representation of the original work.
The following offers usage tips and explanations of terms and citations used in this catalogue:
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
Year Range: Researchers wishing to locate all paintings completed during a specific period
should enter the sought year dates under
From and To. Because of the mechanical requirements of the site, dates that have been assigned
as circa are indicated with a c
following the date noted. It is therefore necessary to add a year on each end in the From and
To boxes. One searching for all
paintings completed during 1910, for example, should enter 1909 in the first box, and then 1911 in the
second. Although this will bring
up superfluous paintings, the search will result in having work with circa dates inclusive.
Height and Width: Here, for example, searchers seeking paintings with dimensions of 26 x 32
inches should enter 26 in the first
from height box, and then again in the second (to) box. The dimension of 32
should similarly be entered twice, from and to.
Keyword: This is a powerful search engine entry. Paintings may be located that have, for example
the words, autumn the word,
gentleman or the word oxen in their titles. Careful effort has been made to
ascribe titles containing words that may be regarded as
keywords, thus enhancing easier searching efforts. As noted above, the 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 artists known 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 and magazine illustrations of the artist posing adjacent
to his paintings have been
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 has been accomplished
in most instances
by affixing fraudulent signatures sometimes on the recto and sometimes on the verso surface of the work.
Often, these signatures are
amateurishly contrived. Often too, the quality of the work suffers as being aesthetically mediocre.
No images or records of paintings of
such questionable authenticity are presented in this catalogue.
Although the artist signed most of his pictures, there are many that he never signed. Some have been
authenticated in the past by
Alten family descendants. Those are frequently accompanied by signed letters of authenticity. Other
unsigned works have been
evaluated here through the use of the varied resources previously noted.
This inventory, as with every online catalogue raisonné, is a dynamic document, and changes
of opinion regarding authenticity can and
should be made when evidence presents a compelling argument for such change. As such, no absolute warranty
is made regarding the
authenticity of any painting included in this catalogue.
Images used in this catalogue have been derived from several sources. Many have been digitally photographed
in color, some scanned
from auction and exhibition catalogues, magazines, slides, negatives, microfilm and transparencies.
Private owners have provided
pictures of their paintings via email attachments and some have been downloaded from sites already extant
on the Internet. In most
instances, cropping has been necessary in order avoid key-stoning when paintings have been photographed
at severe angles, and to
provide the most comprehensive rectangular composition for this site. Frames have been cropped-out where
they appear in
photographs; however where the original painting is ovate, computer-generated frames have been added
during photo-editing in order to
satisfy the mechanics of this site. Photo-editing in general has been kept to a minimum.
Images are provided here as they are found to exist regardless of quality. Early twentieth century
painting illustrations, such as those
drawn from newspapers and magazines are invariably found in black and white and are so shown.
When colors in available photographs have been found to be so vastly distant from 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 authoritative.
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 (MIFL80).
Infrequently, Alten signed with the initials M.A. only. Although rare, such initialed pictures have
been discovered on both oil and
watercolor pictures. Sometime during or after 1909, the artist seems to have abandoned the left-slanted
style and began to apply an
extended tilde or wavy line beneath his name. During the teens that line often began with a hook then
curved downward to a more
horizontal plane. On later paintings, such as on those executed in Tarpon Springs (1935), the entire
line flattened somewhat and
assumed a posture with less flourish.
Throughout his career his signature varied with the application of serifs at the ends of brushstrokes,
and varied too with the extent of
elongation on the second leg down stroke on both the letters M and A.
A majority of Alten paintings are signed, however some are not. It cannot be assumed that if the
picture is not signed, then it was left
unfinished. It cannot be assumed that if unsigned, the artist was unsatisfied with the composition.
There are Alten family accounts in
which it has been said that Mathias sometimes simply forgot to apply his signature, and had to be reminded
to do so.
The paintings in this catalogue have been dated in two ways. First, Alten frequently inscribed dates
on his paintings until about 1921.
After that year, with the exception of portraits, he rarely dated his work. The thought has been that
about that time he recognized that
potential buyers of his work were most interested in collecting his very latest and thus, perhaps, best
work. Visitors at his exhibitions
seeing work that was dated perhaps a year or two prior, might have been of the opinion that for some
reason previous buyers had
decided to not to purchase a particular painting, and therefore the work might not have been his best.
Although that thinking was likely
flawed, Alten seems to have then decided to eliminate inscribing dates. In a few instances too, it is
evident that Alten clearly
overpainted some previously inscribed dates.
Although the elimination of dates on his canvases probably helped with sales, it has caused problems
in establishing precisely when a
piece was completed.
This has lead to a second, albeit somewhat of a subordinate, method of determining the genesis of
a work, and that has been through a
subjective analysis of painting style, paint application, canvas size, signature appearance, and a general
understanding regarding what
subject matter he was painting when and where. It is known for example, that although seemingly none
of his Tarpon Springs, Florida
paintings were dated, they were in fact all finished when he visited there in 1935. The 1935 date can
then be confidently ascribed to the
marine pictures he finished there.
It is helpful to know as well that as Alten progressed through his more mature years, he began applying
less pigment to the canvases.
Gone for the most part were the paintings of the teens with their thick impasto and lavish evidence
of palette knife use.
Still, the process of accurate dating continues to evolve as more is learned about his oeuvre. More
research is needed for example, in
order to be able to distinguish the 1922 Spanish pictures from those he painted while visiting Spain
for a third time in 1928. To date, no
reliable method of differentiation has been found.
When a 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
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
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
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
1888-89 Is employed by Joseph Klein as a painter.
1889 Immigrates to the United States with his parents, brother John, and sister Katherine
aboard the steamship Pennland, departing
from the port of Antwerp, Belgium, on January 12 and arriving in New York on January 25. The family
settles for a short time with
relatives in Ferrysburg, Michigan. In April, they move to the west side of Grand Rapids, then
heavily populated by German immigrants.
Alten obtains work as a decorator in local furniture factories.
1891 While employed by Charles C. Nooneman during 1891-92, paints decorations for the Rathskeller,
a German brew house at 90
Canal Street in Grand Rapids. Probably begins instruction under, and works for, Edwin A. Turner
(1854-99), a Muskegon artist who
conducts classes in Grand Rapids. Likely still under Turner's tutelage, Alten paints a copy of
Rembrandt's Portrait of a Nobleman
(National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.). Boards at 136 First Street.
1892 Boards at 219 First Street.
1893 Works as a painter for Miller and Middleton, house decorators and dealers in fine wallpapers,
114 Monroe Avenue. Boards at 99
Jackson Street. Gives Longfellow's Poetical Works to Bertha L. Schwind and inscribes
it, "1893-Merry Christmas-M. Alten."
1894 Works for Charles C. Nooneman. Boards at 223 Bowery Street (now Douglas Street).
Continues art instruction under E. A.
Turner at 23 Fountain Street.
1895 February 9, marries Bertha L. Schwind; Charles Gibson, pastor of the Peoples Church in
Grand Rapids, officiates. The couple
operates Schwind and Alten, a paint and wallpaper store at 32 West Bridge Street, formerly owned by
Bertha's father, Ferdinand (who
died May 9, 1894). Alten advertises himself as a "Scenic Artist" and designs an academically
drawn advertisement for Schwind and
Alten reading, "Sign writing in all its branches. Church and frescoing in any style of ornamentation.
Theatrical work a specialty."
Schwind and Alten advertisements appear in Germania, a Grand Rapids German-language newspaper.
Bertha's mother, Theresa
Kuenzel Schwind, maintains a partnership in the business.
1896 Continues with his wife and mother-in-law at Schwind and Alten. Enters work in
the Michigan State Fair competition and
supplements income with prize money. Daughter Ella (later called Eleanore) is born December 1.
About this time, Alten works for
David W. Kendall at the Phoenix Furniture Co., where he decorates furniture in the Rookwood style.
Paints Chrysanthemums (Grand
Rapids Public Museum) and signs it "M. Alten," the signature he would use for virtually all
of his works throughout his career.
1897 Continues at Schwind and Alten. Paints Hollyhocks (Spectrum Health Systems)
Continues to exhibit at state fair competitions.
winning prize money. Account books for Schwind and Alten for the years 1897-98 list "artists
materials, pictures and bronzes" as part
of the stock on hand."
1898 Continues at Schwind and Alten at least until the end of August, after which the firm's
account books no longer contain entries.
Germania advertisements for the business last appear in the June 15 issue. Paints local
landscapes and still lifes, including a
watercolor Basket With Peaches and Plums (Private Collection). Paints Goats
(Private collection) a watercolor. Becomes a United
States citizen on November 1. On the same day, he applies for a passport for European travel.
A second daughter, Camelia, is born
November 13. On November 28. a passport is issued to Alten and he leaves in late December for
art study in Europe.
1899 Enrolls at the Académie Julian in Paris where he studies academic
painting under Jean Benjamin-Constant. Jean-Paul Laurens,
Rene Prinet, and Louis Girardot. Later he enrolls at the Académie Colarossi, where he wins
a gold medal in figural drawing. His
address in Paris. as taken from the cover of his sketchbook, is 29 Avenue de Maine. Louisa Dot,
of 73 Rue de Cherche-Midi, is his
model. He also attends the afternoon sketch class at Whistler's academy. In the summer,
he travels, paints, and visits galleries in the
Vatican, Rome, Florence, Naples, Genoa, Turin, Herculaneum, Siena, and Alexandria. Returning to
France, he visits Paris and its
environs and paints landscapes and peasants, especially along the coast near Etaples. He paints The
Cavalier (Private collection) and
Madonna and Child (location unknown) in Paris. In June, his former teacher, E. A. Turner, dies
in Grand Rapids. After painting the
greater part of the summer in France, he visits and paints in Holland and Belgium. In September,
he returns home. In October he and
another artist, Constant L. Fliermans, open a studio and art school at 66 Pearl Street, Grand Rapids,
occupying the same rooms where
E. A. Turner maintained his studio. Tuesdays and Friday evenings are devoted to drawing from the nude.
Alten continues teaching
evening art classes in Grand Rapids for the next twenty-five years. In November, he acts as a
judge for the second exhibition of the
Grand Rapids Camera Club. He continues his friendship with local photographers, especially Carl
Bjorncrantz, throughout his life.
1900 Continues teaching and painting at 66 Pearl Street studio. A landscape
canvas from this period (Voigt House Historical Museum)
has the words "M. Alten Studio 66 Pearl St." stamped within an oval on the verso. In early
summer, he paints Irises (Grand Valley
State University) In July, he paints walls and ceilings of the Grand Theater in Grand Rapids.
A newspaper account describes the
ceiling and wall decorations as wreaths of roses with "cupids and female figures pelting one another
with roses," adding that above the
boxes are "painted figures of the muses of music and history, one on each side." Another newspaper,
reporting on the reconstruction of
the fire-damaged Turner's Hall on Jefferson Street, notes, "M. Alten provided the stage decorations
and they have been done in a
magnificent manner." Exhibits and wins prize money at the Michigan State Fair, in Comstock
1901 Paints Cows in a Landscape (location unknown). In December, he paints the stage
scenery for the Landwehr Hall, a Grand
Rapids social club for German American. Exhibits at the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, NY, May 1,
1901 - November 1, 1901.
Exhibit is held in the Michigan Building.
1902 Exhibits in January at the Toledo Museum of Art, Second Annual Exhibition. Paints
in the fall at Old Lyme, Connecticut, and,
possibly for the first time, becomes acquainted with Henry Rankin Poore (1859-1940), who has relatives
in Grand Rapids.
1903 Exhibits Morning (location unknown), painted in Old Lyme, and Rocky Soil, Lyme (Private
collection) in January at the National
Academy of Design, New York. A third daughter, Viola, is born on October 19. Moves his studio
to 75 Monroe Avenue, above the
Heystek and Canfield Company. On December 29 he exhibits Husking Corn (location unknown)
at the Society of Western Artists
show at the Art Institute of Chicago.
1904 A review in the April issue of International Studio describes Alten's Husking
Corn as "a solid frank rendering of a simple country
motive." Completes Robin Hood and Ivanhoe murals for the F. P. Wilcox home on College Avenue
at Fulton Street, designed by Grand
Rapids architect W. R. Clarke. Paints Picnic at Macatawa, an Alten family scene.
Exhibits five paintings at the Bissell House in
Grand Rapids, along with other Grand Rapids artists, including Forrest Emerson Mann (1879-1959) of the
Grand Rapids Arts and Crafts
School of Design, who becomes the artist's longtime friend and travel companion. Holds a large
exhibition of paintings at his studio at
75 Monroe Avenue.
1905 Exhibits one painting, In the Gravel Pit (Private Collection), at
the National Academy of Design. Exhibits a watercolor. Regatta
Day at Macatawa (Private Collection), at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in the
spring. Holds a large exhibition in his studio
at 75 Monroe Avenue.
1906 For his newly built home on the northeast corner of Hope Street and Fuller Avenue, Alten
paints murals in the vestibule and
decorates the walls and ceiling with his own mosaic tile work and decoration. The dining room
includes a copper and stained-glass
electrolier designed by Forrest E. Mann. Stained-glass panels (Grand Rapids Art Museum), clearly
inspired by a Tiffany design, are
installed in the bay window on the west side of the home. The second floor includes a studio with
a panel of northern lighted windows
and a model's stand. Alten's daughters later recall that he worked on the window design with drawings
and scrap pieces of glass when
the family lived on Bowery Street (now Douglas Street). The Grand Rapids Art Glass company assists
with leads and other assembly
materials. Holds a December exhibition at his Monroe Avenue studio, including in it The River
Road, Pasture Lands, An Autumn
Wood, and Saint James Church (locations unknown). In the same show, a painting titled Brain
and Brawn (Tim Qualey the Toiler)
(location unknown) describes a Grand Rapids blacksmith at his anvil.
1907 Philippe Fontaine of Boston purchases Brain and Brawn and books it for exhibitions
in large stores in Chicago. Indianapolis,
Detroit, Toledo, and Columbus. Paints Gathering Pumpkins at Sunset (Grand Valley State
University). Paints the raging fire of
September 1 at the Valley City Brick Company at East Bridge (later Michigan Street) and Fuller Avenue
from a sketch he made atop a
nearby hill only blocks from his home at Fuller Avenue and Hope Street.
1908 Exhibits sixty-five paintings, including Christ and Nicodemus and Descent from
the Cross (locations unknown), at the Ryerson
Library in Grand Rapids. Exhibits two paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago, Cutting Cabbage (location
unknown) and The Color
Mixer (Private collection) the latter a portrait of his studio assistant,
Robert Rouse, mixing paint pigments in a bucket. Paints Fish
Scaler (Private collection) with Rouse again as model. On December 5, Alten holds an exhibition
of thirty paintings, in the rotunda of
the Morton House Hotel in Grand Rapids.
1909 On June 17, Alten and his wife are in Portland, Oregon, where he fulfills a commission
to paint portraits of former Michigan
lumberman John H. Haak and his wife, daughter, and son. Haak purchases Alten's The Gravel Pit (location
unknown). Alten paints a
still life of roses in a basket in an outdoor setting and inscribes it, "Portland."
He exhibits at a local art store in Portland.
1910 Paints Road Builders at John Ball Park (location unknown) in the spring.
Paints one of several versions of Saint Mark's Church
(Grand Rapids Art Museum). Alten and Colonel George Briggs serve on a judging and purchasing committee
to select paintings for the
soon-to-be-established Grand Rapids Art Association. Alten continues to serve many years on the
acquisitions committee. On June
14, he is named an honorary member of the Grand Rapids Art Association, a membership he holds for his
lifetime. Between June and
August he finishes work on the two large murals, The Sources of Wealth and The Uses of Wealth (Both
Grand Rapids Art Museum),
for the Grand Haven State Bank building. He leaves for Europe with his wife, three daughters,
and his student Norman S. Chamberlain
(1887-1961), sailing on August 24 aboard the Campania of the Cunard Line. In Holland he
paints people, homes, canals, seascapes,
1911 In January, Dudley Waters donates Alten's The Color Mixer and Alten, then painting
in the Netherlands, donates Milking Time
(location unknown) to the Art Association's fledgling collection of twelve paintings, which are
first exhibited at the Ladies Literary Club in
Grand Rapids. In late January, the Grand Rapids Art Students League elects Alten an honorary member.
In the spring, Alten travels
with his family to Scheveningen, a quaint fishing village and resort on the North Sea. There he
paints the huge work horses that haul
the large herring boats to the seashore. Alten later boasts that while he was in the Netherlands
he "painted every day but one, and
then it was too cold."
In April The Sources of Wealth and The Uses of Wealth are installed in the Grand Haven
State Bank, which holds its grand opening on
June 3. Before returning to the United States, Alten takes the family on a trip to Belgium, France,
Switzerland, and Germany. They
return in late summer on the Kaiserin Augusta Victoria of the Hamburg America Line, the family
to Michigan and the artist to Old Lyme,
Connecticut. There he paints several autumn scenes over a three-month period and exhibits them
at the Lyme Art Association. He
occupies the barn-studio of Will Howe Foote (1874-1965), a Grand Rapids native and early member of the
artists' colony founded in Old
Lyme by Barbizon-style painter Henry Ward Ranger (1858-1916). Alten paints Thoroughbreds
(location unknown), a canvas depicting a
farmer atop a wagon pulled by oxen, which he inscribes "Lyme," as he did with most of his
canvases painted there.
Back in Grand Rapids in November, he takes a temporary studio at 100 Godfrey Building. On December
5, the Grand Rapids Art
Association holds a one-artist exhibition of his works at the Saint Cecilia Building. Seventy-one
paintings, largely reflecting his work in
Holland and at Old Lyme, are presented. Professor George B. Zug of the University of Chicago photographs
several of Alten's canvases
for use in his slide lectures. Alten exhibits a version of Salt Haying (Location unknown)
at the Art Institute of Chicago.
1912 On March 12, the Grand Rapids Art Students League gives a going away party
to honor Alten. Having become impressed with
the work of Spanish artist Joaquin Sorolla, he sails to Spain on March 16 on the Princess Irene of
the North German Lloyd,
accompanied by his friend Forrest E. Mann and an unidentified New York sculptor. By March 23 he
is in Tangier where he paints at
least two watercolors. On April 3 he is in Seville. In a letter from Valencia dated June 13 to
his wife Bertha, Alten relates that he has
completed twenty-three canvases. During his seven-month stay, he calls on Sorolla at his home
in Madrid only to find that he is away.
While in Spain he attends a single bullfight and, having a fondness for animals, says later, "Needless
to say I did not attempt any
pictures on such a revolting subject." By October, Alten sails home from Bremen. His
pictures of Valencia include images of oxen
pulling fishing boats in brilliant sunlight. He arrives in Grand Rapids on October 17. After
this trip to Spain, his palette never again
returns to the dark tonality of the past. Later in the year, he exhibits Shell Fisher (location
unknown) at the Art Institute of Chicago.
1913 Listing his studio address as 86 Wonderly Building, Grand Rapids, Alten
exhibits a watercolor, Valencian Fisher Boats (Private
Collection), at the Art Institute of Chicago. He instructs life-drawing classes for the Grand
Rapids Art Students League in a studio over
Peck's Drug Store. He exhibits fifty-nine pictures, including The Blue Dome (Private Collection)
and Toilers of the Sea (location
unknown), at the Grand Rapids Art Association's nineteenth exhibition, held at the Saint Cecilia Building
in April He hand-carves and
gold-leafs picture frames during the winter months of 1912-13; some are especially designed for the
pictures they contain. He
purchases a home at 1593 East Fulton Street on a land contract sale dated July 12 and he carves a design
in the stone below the
mantel and at both sides of the living room fireplace. In August, he is interviewed by Edward
Alden Jewell, art critic for the Grand
Rapids Herald, and later for the New York Times. During the interview, Alten reveals that after returning
from Spain, he revisited the few
Sorolla paintings in the Metropolitan Gallery in New York, paintings he had earlier looked at
almost with reverence and confessed that
he had become less enthusiastic over the achievement of Sorolla then finding his pictures less remarkable. Returns to Old Lyme in
the fall, and paints a watercolor and gouache autumn street scene, which he inscribes "Lyme"
and dates 1913.
1914 Serves with Forrest E. Mann as a juror for the Fifth Annual Exhibition of pictures by
local artists, held at the Ryerson Library in
Grand Rapids in March. Exhibits two paintings-Changing the Plow (Private Collection) and The
Old Tower Clock (Private Collection) at
the National Academy of Design; among the jurors for the exhibition are Cecilia Beaux, William Merritt
Chase, Daniel Garber, and
Edward Potthast. Exhibits at the Grand Rapids Art Association in April. Several of Alten's
paintings are reproduced as color
lithographs for a 1915 calendar printed by Dickinson Bros. of Grand Rapids.
1915 Paints Division and Monroe Avenue, Grand Rapids (Private Collection).
Exhibits Portrait of Von Platen Jr. (Private Collection) at
the National Academy of Design, and The River Bend (location unknown) at the Art Institute of
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
1917 Paints Self-Portrait, By Himself (JP Morgan Chase & Co.) in which he wears
a Red Cross pin in his lapel as a reflection of his
wartime allegiance. Although anti-German sentiment is evident in Grand Rapids, as elsewhere in
wartime America, it seems to have
little effect on Alten or his work. He exhibits Portrait of Justice Robert M. Montgomery (Michigan
Supreme Court Historical Society) at
the Art Institute of Chicago. Paints The Last Load, later titled Three Horse Team (Private
Collection). Paints Old Fountain Street
Church Burning (Fountain Street Church) after sketching the scene during the fire. Draws a
charcoal self-portrait for the November 4
issue of the Grand Rapids Herald and signs it with conjoined "M" and "A"
enclosed in a circle. The Herald article notes that Alten is
working as an instructor for the Grand Rapids School of Art and Industry in his studio above Peck's
Drug Store. Exhibits fifty-three
canvases at the Grand Rapids Art Association, including July Memories (Private Collection), picturing
his daughter Camelia on
horseback and her friend Lucile Cusick nearby. In December, Alten conducts well-known landscape
painter George Gardner Symonds
(1863-1930) on a tour of the Grand Rapids area, pointing out picturesque places to paint.
1918 On March 18 exhibits The Model and Late Autumn (locations unknown) at the
Scarab Club in Detroit. Exhibits Self-portrait
(Private Collection) at the Art Institute of Chicago. Exhibits at the Milwaukee Art Institute
1919 Paints Kite Flyers (also called Boys Flying Kites) (Calvin
College, Grand Rapids) and a companion piece. Is commissioned to
paint a full-length posthumous portrait of Lieutenant George Hollister, a young Grand Rapids man who
was killed in action in France
during World War I. In order to paint the portrait, Alten hires a sitter about Hollister's size
and poses him in a military uniform of the
type worn by the soldier. A photograph is used to paint the facial features, and Alten requests
numerous photographs showing the
hands as well as the face. He uses this procedure many times in later years for commissioned,
posthumous portraits of the Michigan
judiciary and others, such as that of a woman who died in the Titanic disaster. In late
November, Alten holds an exhibition of sixty
canvases in the Ashton Building in Grand Rapids. Included in the show is The Country Church
at Ada (Private collection).
1920 His daughter Viola's friend Ida Mae Harveson poses for The Dancer (location unknown).
The picture is exhibited at the Saint
Louis Art Museum. In December, Alten wins a gold medal at the Scarab Club in Detroit for his group
of three paintings titled Self-
Portrait (Private Collection), Portrait of Mrs. Halow (location unknown), and The Dancer. Simultaneous
to the Scarab Club show, he
exhibits forty-one canvases at the John Hanna Galleries in Detroit. Exhibits The Brook (Private
Collection) and Self-Portrait at the
National Academy of Design. Paints a picture of a factory worker, which is used as the cover illustration
for The Commonwealth: A
Magazine for Workers
1921 Paints Rain (Grand Rapids Art Museum) a picture of a nude in a landscape, and
dates it 1921 (Alten seldom dates paintings, with
the exception of portraits, after this year). Rain is exhibited at the Scarab Club with
two other pictures. On May 3, Alten is named an
honorary member of the Grand Rapids Furniture Designers Association. Paints and dates a portrait
of himself in which he wears pince-
nez glasses; he inscribes the title Pintor (Spanish for painter or artist - Grand Rapids Art
Museum), possibly in anticipation of his 1922
trip to Spain. Paints six compositions for reproduction as cover illustrations for The Commonwealth:
A Magazine for Workers.
1922 Secures a passport on January 27 for himself and his wife, and travels in March with
a student, Grand Rapids-born Foster Jewell
(1893-1984), to Spain. Both he and Jewell paint at Valencia, Alten this time using larger canvases.
He then travels inland to Sagunto
to paint peasants and village scenes. These pictures are often inscribed "Sagunto."
He returns after spending several months in
Europe. Wins second prize at the Detroit Institute of Arts Founders Society exhibition in December
for his picture Old Woman of
Sagunto (Bergsma Gallery). Exhibits A Hot Summer Day (Private collection) and Valencian
Peasant (locations unknown) at the Art
Institute of Chicago.
1923 Exhibits Portrait of J. A. Klise (location unknown) at the Grand Rapids Art Association's
exhibition of Michigan artists held in
March; five paintings at the Scarab Club in Detroit; Entrance to Calvaria (location unknown)
at the National Academy of Design, and
Calvaria (likely the same painting as Entrance to Calvaria) at the Pennsylvania Academy
of the Fine Arts. Paints Boiling the Floats
(Dennos Museum Center, Traverse City, MI) at Manistee, Michigan.
1925 Exhibits several Spanish scenes in April at the Southby Salon, Los Angeles. This
is a one-artist show that was negotiated by
Alten's daughter Eleanore, who had traveled to the West Coast to promote and sell her father's paintings.
Paints Portrait of Bishop
Edward Kelly (Grand Valley State University), Bishop of the Grand Rapids Diocese; the dimensions
of the portrait are to the precise
protocol for a seated bishop. Exhibits thirty paintings in November at the Grand Rapids Art Gallery,
including Pear Blossoms (location
unknown) as well as the then partially completed family portrait The Artist's Daughters (Grand
Rapids Art Museum). Paints an oil
illustration of a newsboy for the 1926 Grand Rapids Press calendar.
1926 Exhibits The Artist's Daughters at the Detroit Institute of Arts in January.
Completes Portrait of Brigadier General Guy Wilson
(Michigan National Guard Armory, Flint), which is exhibited briefly at the Detroit Institute of
Arts and then withdrawn, apparently at the
consignor's request; it is subsequently unveiled in July at the National Guard Armory in Flint, Michigan,
where Wilson was being
honored. Exhibits thirty-seven paintings, including Sassafras and Sumac (location unknown)
in November at the Lansing Woman's
Club in Lansing, Michigan.
1927 In February, Alten completes Portrait of the Right Rev. Joseph Gabriel Pinten (Grand
Valley State University). Exhibits twenty
paintings, including Noonday Meal (Private collection), at the Milwaukee Art Institute in May.
In June, Norman Chamberlain, Alten's
former student, is in Grand Rapids for a month-long exhibition of his French paintings at the Grand
Rapids Art Gallery. Chamberlain
announces that he will be traveling after the show to paint in New Mexico. It is likely that he
and Alten travel together to Taos in July.
There Alten paints more than forty canvases depicting Native Americans (Taos and Apache) as well as
landscapes and adobe
dwellings in the Taos valley. He also paints Irving Couse's Garden (Grand Rapids Art Museum) at
the adobe home of his friend Eanger
Irving Couse (1866-1936), one of the founders of the Taos Society of Artists. Paints lndian
Scouts, alternatively, Riders (Private
1928 Exhibits Smoking Apache (Grand Rapids Art Museum) a Taos picture, at the National
Academy of Design. Travels to Spain with
his student Kreigh Collins (1908-1974). They go their separate ways in North Africa. In
July, while Alten is overseas, the Grand Rapids
Art Gallery exhibits a variety of his paintings, including those completed in Spain, New Mexico, and
Michigan. Gertrude Sligh of Grand
Rapids lends Alten's portrait of herself (Private collection, NH) to the exhibition. It is one
of many such portraits that Alten painted
through the years. His daughter Eleanore Alten Gilleo, acting as his business agent and salesperson,
secures commissions for
several portraits of Michigan Supreme Court judges, including Justices Ernest Snow, John E. Bird, and
Richard C. Flannigan.
1929 Exhibits in one-artist show at Holt Galleries, New York, February to March. Alten and
his wife attend the February 11 reception.
In February Alten travels with his wife to Hollywood, Florida, where he paints bathing beauties under
colorful beach umbrellas. A young
Grand Rapids woman, Helen Balbach, coincidentally vacationing there, poses for several of the canvases.
Paints two portraits of Judge
Walter H. North (one was acquired in 1996 by the Kalamazoo Institute of Art, and the location of the
other is unknown). Later he
travels to Southern California and paints several scenes of waves crashing on rocks at Laguna Beach.
Likely he visits and paints with
Norman Chamberlain, who had settled in Laguna Beach. The October 12 cover of the Literary Digest features
a reproduction of a
Spanish painting that had been in the Holt Galleries show.
1930 Exhibits two beach scenes at the Grand Rapids Art Gallery in May and a similar painting
at the Scarab Club in June. Exhibits
Laguna Seascape (Private Collection), The Sea Nymph (Anita M. Gilleo Trust), and Sacred
Garden (Private collection) in the annual
December show at the Grand Rapids Art Gallery. Exhibits a Laguna Beach scene at the National Arts
Club in New York in the fall.
1931 Travels to New York in January with apparent intent to sail for Europe, but returns home
for unknown reasons. Travels to New
England in the fall. In December, he exhibits three paintings at the Grand Rapids Art Gallery: Cape
Ann , Gloucester Harbor (locations
unknown), and Early Autumn (Private Collection).
1932 Lectures in March on the George Inness exhibition at the Grand Rapids Art Gallery.
In July, he and his wife travel to Glen Haven,
Michigan. Exhibits thirty-five pictures at the Grand Rapids Art Gallery in November, including Portrait
of Dudley E. Waters (Private
Collection), depicting a longtime patron, and Atlantic Surge (location unknown), possibly painted
in 1931. On December 6, Alten
speaks to the Grand Rapids Furniture Designers Association oil the modern movement in art.
1933 In May, Alten wins first prize for his Portrait of Patricia Moore
(Private Collection) at the Grand Rapids Art Gallery. In October, he
gives a lecture at the Women's City Club on the subject of modern German art. In December, he
exhibits at his home studio. Included
are a canvas painted in California picturing Foster Jewell under a spreading sycamore tree, California Sycamore,
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 23, 2009.
1896 Michigan State Fair.
1897 Michigan State Fair.
1899 Académie Julian, Paris. First Honorable Mention for mythological
painting. Académie Colarossi, Paris. Gold medal for figural
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,
(Cutting Cabbage and The Color Mixer) One-artist show, Morton House Hotel, Grand Rapids.
1910 Fifth Annual Exhibition of Selected Paintings by American Artists, Buffalo
Fine Arts Academy, May 1-September1. (Hauling the
1911 Ladies Literary Club, Grand Rapids, January. (The Color Mixer
and Milking Time) Lyme Art Association, Old Lyme,
Connecticut, in the fall. Twenty-fourth Annual Exhibition of American Painters and Sculptors,
Art Institute of Chicago, November 14-
December 27. (Salt Haying) One-artist show, Grand Rapids Art Association, Saint Cecilia
Building, December 5-9 (Seventy-one
paintings were listed in the exhibition brochure; seventy-eight were actually exhibited.)
1912 Sixteenth Annual Exhibition of Work by Artists of Chicago and Vicinity,
Art Institute of Chicago, February 1-28. (Shell Fisher)
1913 Twenty-fifth Annual Exhibition of Watercolors by American Artists,
Art Institute of Chicago, March 25-April 17. (Valencian Fisher
Boats) One-artist show, Grand Rapids Art Association Gallery, Saint Cecilia Building, April 30,
for two weeks. (fifth-nine paintings) Fall
Exhibition of the Michigan State Federation of Art, beginning October 20 at Ann Arbor and touring to
Saginaw, Bay City, Jackson,
Detroit, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, and Muskegon. (Beaching the Fishing Boat)
1914 Eighty-ninth Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, March
21-April 26. (Changing the Plow and The Old Tower Clock)
Michigan State Federation of Art exhibition at the Grand Rapids Art Association, April.
1915 Ninetieth Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, March 20-April
25. (Portrait of Von Platen Jr.) Twenty-eighth Annual
Exhibition of American painters and Sculptors, Art Institute of Chicago, November 16-January 2, 1916.
(The River Bend)
1916 Ninety-first Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, March
18-April 23. (Reflections)Grand Rapids Art Gallery, Popular
Prize. Scarab Club, Detroit, December? (The Grain Fields, Henrietta, Reflections,
andThe Village Church?)
1917 Thirtieth Annual Exhibition of American Painters and Sculptors, Art Institute
of Chicago, November 8-January 2, 1918 (Portrait of
Judge Montgomery) One-artist show, Grand Rapids Art Association, December 6-31. (forty-four
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 Artists
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
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.
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
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 Moore)
1934 Annual Exhibition for Michigan Artists, Detroit Institute of Arts, January
5-28 (Nude in Repose)
1935 Annual Exhibition for Michigan Artists, Detroit Institute of Arts.
1936 Annual Grand Rapids Artists Invitational Exhibition, Grand Rapids
Art Gallery, January. Forty-seventh Annual Exhibition of
American Painters and Sculptors, Art Institute of Chicago, October 10-December 6. (Self Portrait)
Annual Exhibition for Michigan
Artists, Detroit Institute of Arts, November 10-December 13. (Morning)
1937 Invitational exhibition, Grand Rapids Art Gallery, January.
Award for Technique. (Self-Portrait) Detroit Institute of Arts, November
16-December 20. (Birches and Violets, Egyptian Lotus, and Portrait of Judge?)
1938 Chicago Galleries, Chicago, February. Mathias Alten memorial Exhibition,
Grand Rapids Art Gallery, October 4-31. (eighty-eight
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
ExperienceA 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,
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