Walter Emerson Baum
(1884 - 1956)

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Village in Winter

Walter Emerson Baum was born in Sellersville, Pennsylvania, and thus holds a reputation as “the only significant Pennsylvania impressionist born in Bucks County” (1). He apprenticed with the artist William Trego (1858 - 1909) and also studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Drawing influence from preceding Pennsylvania impressionists Edward Redfield (1869 - 1965) and Walter Elmer Schofield (1867 - 1944), his plein air landscapes display a vigorous technique with thick avenues of paint laid in wide brushstrokes. In the late 1930s he developed an interest in urban scenes found in the industrial environs of Philadelphia.

Baum’s first recognition as an artist of note came in 1925, when he was awarded the Jennie Sesnan Gold Medal by the PAFA. He exhibited steadily throughout his career, and over the course of his lifetime his paintings appeared in more than 150 museum exhibitions. These venues included the Art Institute of Chicago, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the National Academy of Design. However, his commitment to and impact on the arts extended far beyond that of a painter. He was a prolific journalist and critic for a number of area newspapers, founder and instructor of the Baum School of Art in Allentown, and cofounder and first director of the Allentown Art Museum.

1. Brian H. Peterson, ed., Pennsylvania Impressionism ( Philadelphia: Penn Press, 2002), 92.

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