DescriptionKnown as the "Dean of Michigan Artists," German-born Mathias Alten completed nearly 3,800 paintings in his lifetime, sixty percent of those completed in Michigan. In a world newly-obsessed with modernism, Alten remained steadfast in his Academic Impressionism.
Considered old-fashioned by his peers, Alten's German upbringing and his patron's apathy towards experimentation led him to continue to paint in the style of Realism. It was because of his commitent to this aesthetic that he was awarded praise from across the country, as well as continuous patronage.
In 1899, he ventured to Europe to study art, touring Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Italy. Despite his cultural emersion in Europe, his work remained true to his orignal style; he was uninfluenced by the popular styles of art, such as Cubism and Surrealism.
While commissioned portraits paid his rent, the artist was drawn to agrarian landscapes and nature for pleasure. He painted farm animals, three-horse plows, and Michigan fields.