Reading Public Museum

Reading, PA




Walter Stuempfig (1914-1970)


The Reading Public Museum presents The Forbes Magazine Collection of paintings by Philadelphia born artist, Walter Stuempfig on the occasion of the Museum's October reopening celebration, "A Treasure Renewed" The exhibit opened to the public on October 15, 1998 and remains through January 3, 1999. Following the Reading venue, the exhibition will move to The Forbes Magazine Galleries, 62 Fifth Avenue at 12th Street, New York, NY. The exhibition was made possible through the generous support of Forbes, Inc. The exhibition of thirty paintings includes still lifes, figurative works and landscapes, many set in and around Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Walter Stuempfig is viewed by many to be one of the finest American painters of his time. He worked independently, moving outside the mainstream of current artistic movements yet personified the traditions of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts where he was a teacher for many years. Painting what he observed, Stuempfig is considered a realist in his concern for human existence, but he tempers this with the sensitivity of a romantic. "Stuempfig's work evokes a sense of loneliness - a moody atmosphere not unlike that of the paintings of his fellow Pennsylvania Academician of the previous century, Thomas Eakins", writes Christopher Forbes, Vice Chairman, Forbes Inc.

Waiter Stuempfig was born in Germantown, Philadelphia in 1914. The son of a wealthy family, he was able to pursue his passion for painting at an early age without the financial constraints experienced by many struggling artists. He graduated from the Germantown Academy in 1930 and spent a year studying architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. He went on to his formal art training at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia where he enrolled in 1931, selecting and studying under the Academy's most demanding master teachers. His success as one of the foremost American realist painters was launched in 1942 by his inclusion in the Artists for Victory exhibition, sponsored by The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Discovered by R. Kirk Askew, Sr. of the distinguished Durlacher Brothers Gallery in New York, his first one-man show there was sold out on opening night. He continued his solo exhibitions at the gallery through 1961.

Following the unfortunate death of his wife in 1946, Stuempfig concentrated even more on his art. He worked from his studio in Chestnut Hill, devoting himself completely to painting. His summers were spent at the Jersey shore and he frequented the streets of Manayunk. He enjoyed meadows and woodlands and painted portraits of family and friends.

In 1948, Stuempfig joined the faculty at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, where he was an instructor in drawing and composition, and general critic until his death in 1970. Dr. Robert P. Metzger, Museum Director and CEO writes, "...he perfected a romantic style which was more related to Continental Old Masters than it was to his contemporaries. Often compared to Edward Hopper, whom he admired, Stuempfig's painstaking and exacting technique was subtler and more polished than Hopper's and his figural work has a greater subjectivity, infused with nostalgia, personal sentiment, feeling and emotion." A prolific painter, Walter Sluempfig produced over 1,500 works.

The exhibition is supported in part by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

From top to bottom: Wood's Quarry, oil on canvas, 80 x 40 inches, collection of Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Forbes; Pasture, oil on canvas, 26 x 35 inches, The Forbes Magazine Collection, New York

Read more about the Reading Public Museum in Resource Library Magazine.

For further biographical information on selected artists cited in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 7/23/10

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