Sale 1016 Lot 46

American (1854-1932) 
"Upland Stream, Mohawk Valley"

Walter Launt Palmer was already thirty-four years old when he painted his first winter

masterpiece, January, which he exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1887. The work

earned him the notable Hallgarten Prize and led to his election as an associate of the

The cool, reaching blue shadows of the winter scenes that he painted almost exclusively thereafter were a considerable departure from the cozy, decorative interiors and sun-drenched Venetian scenes created earlier in his career. Still, Palmer’s winter views, tempered by greens, yellows, and pinks scattered across the snow, are often as warm and intimate as his previous work.


Such is the case with Upland Stream, Mohawk Valley. The trees alongside the stream create a cloistered affect, while the bright pinks, blues, and yellows lend a sense that dawn is rising just beyond the bend. The water is running and the snow appears heavy, as it would in the early hours of a winter thaw. The composition and approach are textbook Palmer, however the execution remains extraordinary—the stream shines and the snow is pearlescent.


Palmer’s legacy as a winter painter has somewhat obscured his origins as a conventionally trained and versatile artist. The son of the sculptor Erastus Dow Palmer, Walter grew up in an arts minded environment in Albany where painters such as John F. Kensett, Jervis McEntee, and Frederick Edwin Church visited. Palmer later studied with Church, who praised his work regularly and remained a life-long friend.[2] He counted William Merritt Chase and John Singer Sargent among his close associates, and he won numerous prizes throughout his career, including gold medals at the annual exhibitions of the Philadelphia Art Club and the Boston Art Club in 1894 and 1895, respectively. In 1907 he won the silver medal at the Philadelphia Art Club for a work also titled November Snow. In 1921, his painting, Silent Dawn, was purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.[3]


[1] John Tarantine, Walter Launt Palmer (1854-1932), exhib. cat. (Youngstown: Butler Institute of Art, 1988), 3.


[2] Tarantine, 3.


[3] Mann, 176.

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