Lionel Walden

A famous painter of seascapes and marine scenes, Lionel Walden was born in Connecticut in 1861. He first became interested in art in Minnesota, where the family moved when his father became rector of an Episcopal Church there. As a young man Walden moved to Paris where he studied with E. A. Carolus-Duran. A frequent exhibitor in the Paris salons, the "King of Bohemia", as he was called, became a skilled figure painter in addition to painting marine and harbor scenes. Though he also exhibited and won prizes in London, St. Louis, and San Francisco, Walden considered Paris his home. His participation in the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915 not only earned him a medal, but also allowed him to display his famous "The Surf Riders" prominently. In Paris, Walden became acquainted with Kimo Wilder, a Honolulu artist. The meeting was to prove fateful, as Wilder invited Walden to come to Hawaii, which he did in 1911. That visit was the first of many, as Walden fell in love with the light and water in Hawaii. Lionel Walden was considered the finest seascape artist in Hawaii. While many of his peers were obsessed with volcanoes, Walden preferred the ocean in "all its moods, colors, and actions." He is particularly famous for his paintings of stormy seas. Walden did paint his share of volcanoes,and other landscapes, as well, and collaborated on the immense dioramas of the seven scenic wonders of Hawaii with his good friend, D. Howard Hitchcock, for the 1917 Pan-Pacific Carnival. They also joined forces with other artists to produce murals for a theater, for the telephone company, and for a ship of the Inter-Island Steam Navigation Company in the early 1920s. Though his fame originates mainly from the art he created in Hawaii, Walden’s first love was France, and he died there in Chantilly in 1933. Sources: WWAA; Forbes: Encounters With Paradise; Gerdts: Art Across America, vol. 3. Lionel Walden was born in Norwich Connecticutt, but spent his early years in various cities before going to Minnesota, where his father served as rector of an Episcopal Church. There, Walden first became interested in art. Later, in Paris, he studied under E.A. Carolus-Duran and became as adept at figure painting as he later would be at seascapes. Walden sent a picture to the Paris Salon every year, and the only painting that he owned was hanging there when he died in a mountaineering accident in 1933. Walden received medals in 1900, 1903, and the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1910. Walden Exhibited to acclaim in the Saint Louis Exposition of 1900 and at the Pan Pacific International exhibition in San Francisco in 1915. Lionel Walden was the finest seascape painter to work in Hawaii. He was magnetized by the colors he saw in the landscape and the sea. "I have watched the moon rise over that mountain (Diamond Head) and seen the silvery sheen on the swell as it rolls over the beach," he commented to a reporter. Although his scenes of white frothy waves dashing dramatically against rocky coasts are most familiar, he painted the sea in all its mooods, colors and actions. Obscure in the annals of American art, Walden looms large in the Musee d'Orsay collection, where with his compatriots Whistler, Cassatt, Homer, Eakins and Sargent, he must represent his country. Like them, he had studied in Paris (with Duran) and was often included in exhibitions that placed his work in a cosmopolitan milieu.

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