Walter Launt Palmer (1854–1932)
Walter Launt Palmer was the nineteenth century’s most celebrated painter of snow scenes. The son of the sculptor Erastus Dow Palmer, Walter was surrounded by great art and artists at an early age. He trained with the noted Hudson River School landscapist Frederic Church and exhibited at the National Academy of Design before embarking on a European tour at age nineteen. In Paris, Palmer studied under the French master Emile Auguste Carolus-Duran, and his subsequent work is striking for its combination of Realist and Impressionist techniques. Upon returning to the United States, Palmer settled in New York, where his work provided an important bridge between the tradition of the Hudson River School and the budding style of the American Impressionists. As one critic noted after his death, Palmer was “one of the last members of that group of nineteenth-century artists whose work is in no small measure responsible for the evolution of the American landscape school of painting.”
Palmer’s masterful landscapes garnered critical recognition and popular acclaim. His impressionist manner earned him comparisons to Claude Monet and John Henry Twatchman, and he received numerous awards and honors during his lifetime. In 1877, he won a prize for outstanding young artists at the National Academy, where he was later named an Associate and an Academician. He received gold medals from the Philadelphia Art Club and the Boston Art Club and prizes from the American Watercolor Society and the Paris Exposition of 1900. He also exhibited at the Brooklyn Art Association, the Corcoran Gallery Biennial, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. His work is now featured in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Butler Institute of American Art, among other important institutions.