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Walter Launt Palmer 


Gallery Database:

Walter Launt Palmer (1854-1932). "White Morning,"

1911, water color, gouache & ink, 22.5 x 16.5, signed.

Reproduced in Catalogue Raisonnee.


Curator's Comment:

White Morning was painted in 1911, and its provenance is iron clad. The work was gifted by Palmer (1854-1932) himself to the artist Jane Peterson (see under that name elsewhere in our listings) in 1913. It was subsequently acquired by Maybelle Mann, and
listed in her catalogue raisonee: Walter Launt Palmer: Poetic Reality, Schiffer Publishing, Easton, Pennsylvania, 1984. Mann owned and loved this work, listed as No. 596 (p. 137), as attached labels attest, which she acquired from the Kenneth Lux Gallery, and gave it a full-page color illustration (p. 38) as well a smaller black and white illustration on p. 94), where she cites Palmer's diary on the gift to Peterson. As another label attests, she lent White Morning to the Albany Art Institute.


Palmer as painted by Irving
Ramsey Wiles in 1909


Newly framed and with gilt-edge mat

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Walter Launt Palmer
Self-Portrait, 1885

As the son of sculptor Erastus Dow Palmer, 'Wallie' as he was called, was born to paint. He came to know almost all the painters of the Hudson River school. He was trained first by Charles Elliott and later by Hudson River School master Frederic Edwin Church. The bond with Church was long lasting, they traveled together to Mexico and shared a studio in New York and elsewhere.  Palmer's work was first accepted for the National Academy of Design show of 1872, when he was only 18. After a European tour in 1873, Palmer continued his art studies in Paris until 1876. One of his masters was Emile Auguste Carolus-Duran, in whose studio he met and
worked along side John Singer Sargent. But later he worked with artists as diverse as Vonnoh, Haley-Lever, John Francis Murphy, Will Low and many others.


Winter Forest brought $198,000 at Sotheby's

Palmer started out by following Edward Gay as a painter of interiors,  preferring what he called the more luxurious interiors of Europe. But Church's influence pointed Palmer towards landscape during their New York period. By the mid-1880s Palmer began working on winter scenes, and his snowscapes are superb. These masterpieces captivated viewers with their serenity and masterful tonal subtleties. Fir trees drooping under the weight of freshly fallen snow and ice glistening on half-frozen streams glow in a way that captures the immediacy of the winter moment. Palmer continued to paint these very popular winter landscapes until his death in 1932. He moved back to Albany, and worked there except for summering in Gloucester where he was a member of the Rockport group of impressionists. He was fascinated by snow, and used both oil and mixed media to capture its subtlety. He once said, "Snow, being colorless, lends itself to every effect of complement and reflection," and his use of blue shadow in the snow is considered one of the first treatments of this technique. Collectors remarked that it was strange to see him sitting on a Gloucester  dock in the summertime while painting a snow scene. But he responded that he felt that he was no more inconsistent than many of his fellow artists who painted summer scenes in the dead of winter. Needless to say Palmer chalked up gold medals, prizes and recognition right to the end of his career.

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