Early 20th-Century Mathias Alten Landscape
It belonged to my family, my mom and dad. I'm sorry I don't know when they purchased it and I don't know what they paid for it. I've always enjoyed it. It's been hanging in my living room in a dark corner for the last ten or 12 years. That's all I know.
And did you know who the artist was?
No, not until two days ago, when my husband and I decided to bring the painting. He lifted it off the wall in the living room, took it out to a brighter spot and noticed a signature. I can barely see it; it's quite dark.
Well, there is a signature-- "M. Alten"-- and it's the signature of Mathias Alten. He was born in 1871 in Gusenburg, Germany, and started out as a young man as an apprentice to a painter. He moved to Grand Rapids and he painted signs, he decorated furniture. And in his late 20s, he went and studied in France and Italy, and his academic career really paralleled that of a lot of artists of his generation. Although abstract art was introduced to America in about 1913, he clearly rejected that and his career was spent as a second-generation Impressionist. He painted still lifes and portraits, but his great love was for nature and landscapes, and his landscapes often include either rustic figures or animals. He painted briefly in Old Lyme, Connecticut, but he did a lot of his work in Grand Rapids and Saugatuck. What we see here is oil on canvas and that was the artist's preferred medium. And one thing I wanted to point out here was this condition issue on the right-hand side, where there's a couple of areas of paint loss. And this is something that you might want to have attended to in order to sort of stabilize that area so that you don't lose more paint. I also think this picture could really benefit from a cleaning, because you have these beautiful bands of color in the water and the sky, and all of this will become much more vibrant if it were lightly cleaned. And I think at some point it was reframed. I think if this were offered in a retail gallery, the asking price might be between $20,000 and $25,000.
I'm... oh, my goodness, I'm speechless. If I liked those cows before, I love them now. (laughing) Thank you, Nan.
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