American Masterpieces from Dryads Green Gallery
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   Winter Brook, 1936, Oil on Canvasboard, 16 x 20, Signed
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Curator's Comments: Baum (1884 - 195) was prolific, producing more than 2,000 works in
oil, tempera, watercolor and pastel, which are generally divided into two distinct groups;
landscapes of Delaware River Valley set in Bucks and Berks counties, illustrating woodlands,
creeks and the countryside, and cityscapes of the surrounding small antiquated-industrial
towns with detailed architecture, intense pure color and objects outlined in bright black. One
of the only Pennsylvania Impressionists to be born in historic Bucks County, Baum seemed to
thrive on an intimate personal relationship with his chosen landscape. He often painted the
area's seasonal changes working en plein air, occasionally painting snowstorms in the
snowstorm itself. "My father strapped an easel to his car's fender, a palette to his door and
painted away while my mother relaxed in the backseat, reading novels," said Baum'son,” who
bears the name Edgar Schofield Baum, after another famous Pennsylvania Impressionist,
Walter Elmer Schofield. Baum is best known for his mature compositions, particularly those
depicting small rural landscapes and farmsteads that were executed in the 1920s and 1930s.
Clearly his townscapes set in Manayunk, the streets of Allentown and Tamaqua, all in
Pennsylvania, are less attractive, with a theme that suggests an almost human burlesque of
the natural environment. By the 1940s, Baum abandoned oil paint and started to experiment
with the media of tempera and casein with less successful results. We are especially pleased
to offer Baum's
Winter Brook (painted near Boyertown) because it is one of the most delicate
and subtle of these works and a painting that can be viewed for a very long time. The rushing
brook, alive in the depths of winter, seems to flow strongly and with a rushing noise that can
almost be heard in the silence of the snow, and veiled trees with reedy branches and the
sleeping farm in the rear. This is another masterpiece of winter art that tells us that there is
life in the depths of its stillness.
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Walter Emerson Baum was born in Sellersville, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in 1884. His
entire life, until his death in 1956, was spent in Sellersville, and he had a long and diverse
career as a painter, museum director, teacher and critic. Baum received his initial training in
1904 from William Trego, a painter of military scenes. He entered the Pennsylvania
Academy of the Fine Arts six years later, in 1910, and studied with Thomas Eakin's
colleague, Thomas Anshutz, who was a major influence on all the Pennsylvanians, including
Redfield, Schofield, Garber, and Robert Henri. Baum was awarded over thirty prizes and
awards from 1918 to 1957, topped by the Sesnan gold medal from PAFA in 1925. In addition
to painting, Baum co-founded and supported the Lehigh Art Alliance in the 1930s. He also
served as Director at the Allentown Museum of Art and headed the Baum School of Art. He
wrote over 500 art reviews for the "Philadelphia Evening Bulletin" and continued to exhibit
work at PAFA annually from 1914-1954. Much of his  work from 1940 on was impacted by
the War, and particulalrly so because Baum (like Schofield), a staunch anti-Nazi, had written
a book on his own origins and the immigrant heritage of Bucks County. He is often
considered the "Father of Art in the Lehigh Valley." His works are included in major
collections including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Toledo Art Museum, PAFA, the
National Academy of Design, the Michener Art Museum, and the Allentown Art Museum.  
After Baum's death in 1956, Philip and Muriel Berman acquired roughly 1,500 paintings by
various Pennsylvania artists from Flora Baum, the artist's wife. Baum's work of the early
1950s was included, and was left to the Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College, which
maintains the largest institutional collection of Baum's work. We agree whole heartedly with
the former Curator at the Allentown Art Museum, Dr. Lori Verderame, who having known
Baum personally, writes: Baum's exhibition record, numerous strong paintings, and his
market value make him a master of the Pennsylvania painters. He was so important, even
during his lifetime, that many artists tried to copy his style and forgeries are still evident and
problematic for the Baum collector. As an art historian, there is no question that Baum is a
major artist and certainly, one to watch.
Walter Emerson Baum, 1953
Self-Portrait, ca. 1940
Mill at Sellersville brought $98,000