Walter Launt Palmer is one of the best-known painters of winter landscapes in American art history. He is also known for his Venetian scenes, and a series of Victorian interiors. He was born in 1854, in Albany, New York. The son of sculptor Erastus Dow Palmer, Walter grew up surrounded by art and artists. Frequent visitors to the Palmer home and studio included Frederic E. Church, John F. Kensett, and Jervis McEntee. He began summer art studies with Hudson River School landscapist Church in 1870. His first painting was accepted for exhibition by the National Academy of Design when he was just eighteen. In 1873 the young artist, traveling abroad with his family, met and sketched with John Singer Sargent in Florence. Palmer studied briefly with Emile-Auguste Carolus-Duran in Paris in 1874 and 1876. Upon his return to the United States in 1877, he established a studio in New York with Church. Palmer lived and worked from 1878 to 1880 in the Tenth Street Studio Building. For most of his career, however, he lived in Albany, New York. Palmer traveled extensively in Europe. He painted in Venice with Robert Blum, William Merritt Chase, Frank Duveneck, and John Twachtman. He also visited Mexico, Canada, Alaska, and possibly Egypt and Greece. In 1899 he and his wife traveled to Japan and China. Palmer became a master of many mediums, working skillfully in oil, watercolor, pastel, and mixed media. Nephew and admirer John Palmer Gavit wrote of Palmer’s life and art in a eulogy: “He grew steadily in spirit, and vigor of mind, hand and vision.” His work partakes of the influences of tonalism, realism, and impressionism. He was also master of color and the effects of light, especially with regard to the subtle yet precise treatment of the snow in his snowscapes. The artist died at home in Albany in 1932.

Palmer was a member of, among others: the National Academy of Design; the Society of American Artists; New York Watercolor Club; American Watercolor Society; Salmagundi; the Century Association; and he was appointed to the Fine Arts Commission of New York State in 1926. His works were exhibited at: the Brooklyn Art Association; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; the Boston Art Club; the National Academy of Design; the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago; the Philadelphia Art Club; the American Watercolor Society; the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition in Nashville; the Paris Exposition of 1900; the 1901 Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, NY; the 1902 Charleston Exposition; the St. Louis Exposition of 1904; the Corcoran Gallery biennials; 1the 1910 Buenos Aires Exposition; and the Art Institute of Chicago, winning numerous medals and prizes. Palmer’s works are held among the collections of: the National Museum of American Art; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Boston Museum of Fine Arts; the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy; the Omaha Art Society; the Albany Institute of History and Art; the Butler Institute of American Art; and many others.


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