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 Walter Lofthouse Dean  (1854 - 1912)

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Lived/Active: Massachusetts      Known for: sea-landscape, coastal views, marine, harbor views

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Ad Code: 3
Walter Lofthouse Dean
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Following are excerpts from a letter submitted by Peter Kostoulakos, ISA, Fine Art Consultant, Lowell, Massachusetts.  The letter to Kostoulakos is from Jack Dean, a descendant of the artist, who is researching to write a book on Walter Lofthouse Dean:

"I just wanted to let you know that I had a wonderful visit in Washington, DC last week to see the Peace painting that my great, great uncle Walter L. Dean painted in 1891.  The painting was even more impressive than I expected it to be.  It is a huge work of art (9' wide by 6'3" high plus a 10-12" frame), the painting is absolutely magnificent and the massive, sculpted, gold frame is incredible.  I was also excited to finally find a good portrait of Walter, along with a letter he wrote to the government in 1900 offering his help with a planned move of the painting.

I also found more details about the purchase.  Although the painting was in the government's possession since 1900, his daughters had to prove in the late 1920's that it had never been paid for and that they were the rightful heirs, which they finally did through a series of letters and an Act of Congress to get the $5,000 payment.  The original legislation was drafted in 1900, while he was living, to pay him $15,000, but unfortunately this was never acted upon for reasons unknown.

It is interesting to me that Peace hung in the Capitol unpaid from 1900 - 1928.  I am convinced now that Walter clearly understood the historical significance of this painting and placed that as a higher priority over the recognition and/or monetary gain he might have enjoyed by hanging it in a museum or selling it to a private investor.  The fact that it has been hanging in relative obscurity since 1900, however, to some extent may have kept him from greater recognition as a major maritime artist. Anyone who sees this painting would agree that it is the work of a master.

It hangs now in a very important and frequently used meeting room in the Cannon House Office Building which is right next to the Capitol and connected thereto by an underground passageway.  There is a new Curator responsible for this painting who has plans to completely renovate the room and clean and conserve the painting during this summer recess.  They had tested a cleaning process and you can clearly see that the painting will be even more spectacular when it's done.

The most exciting part is that they are also planning a major re-dedication ceremony for the painting in September or October.  They were extremely happy to have someone from the Dean family to connect with and would love to have any family members or appreciators of his work present at the event.  I will keep you posted when I get more specific information if you are interested.

In my effort to write a book about Walter L. Dean, I welcome any input you may have and your help with locating owners of his works.  This re-dedication ceremony adds some urgency to the project, so your help right now is greatly appreciated.

Specifically, I am looking for stories about Walter and his artwork, I am looking for current owners of his works, and I am looking for help from anyone who can help me to track down living family members and current owners.  E-mail addresses would be wonderful for anyone you know who might have an interest in this endeavor.

My ultimate goal is to have a Walter L. Dean Art Gallery, probably in Cohasset, where I can sell reproduction prints of his works, buy and sell his originals and offer other nautical artwork.  I would also love to print a "coffee-table" type book about Walter and his art.

Biography from Whistler House Museum of Art:
The following is from Peter Kostoulakos, ISA ˜ Fine Art Consultant

Walter Lofthouse Dean was born in Lowell, Massachusetts on June 4, 1854 and died at his home on March 13, 1912 in East Gloucester, Massachusetts.  He is remembered for his landscapes, coastal scenes, marines, harbors, and boats.

Dean's family moved to Boston when he was a young boy, but his strong ties to Lowell made him a constant visitor.  He spent many hours on the water and became an expert sailor at a young age.  Dean entered MIT to study architecture but soon left to enroll in the Massachusetts Normal School (now Massachusetts College of Art). He worked hard and, upon graduating, he landed a position as a drawing teacher at the Boston Free Evening School.  He worked there for two years and left for an appointment at Purdue University in Indiana — a position he held for almost three years.

Dean's yearning for the coast led him back to Boston where he worked as a marine artist and, in July of 1874, he met and later married Katie Bates Whiting.  With encouragement, he left for Paris in 1882, where he studied at the Academe Julian under Gustave Boulanger and Jules Joseph Lefebvre.  Achile Oudinot, a friend of Corot, was a teacher and friend to Dean for one year.

Dean's studies led him along the coasts of Italy, France, Belgium, Holland, and England before he once again returned to Boston.  He bought a yacht he named Undine in 1885 and in 1887 he was off to Gloucester to paint coastal, fishing, and harbor scenes which, of course, included a yacht or two.

He kept a summer studio in East Gloucester for almost thirty years and, just a year before his death, he built a house near his studio. Dean worked in his Boston studio during the winter months and then, during the warmer months, he sailed his "studio" along the coast. Exhibitions were sparse up to his early thirties and his first major exhibit was at the Boston Art Club Show of 1887. Dean exhibited with the Boston Art Club from 1879 to 1881 and then again  — when he returned from his European studies — from 1886 to 1909.

Dean was a member of the Boston Art Club; Paint and Clay Club; Copley Society, 1906; Salmagundi Club, NY; and several Massachusetts North Shore Art Societies. In addition to the Boston Art Club, he exhibited with the National Academy of Design 1881-96; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association, 1887 (medal), 1895 (gold); and the St. Louis Exposition, 1904 (medal). One of Dean's paintings, Peace, by a legislative act approved May 14, 1928, hangs in an office of the House Committee on Naval Affairs — an appropriate venue for a work produced by a man who lived and worked on and by the sea.

Who Was Who in American Art, vol. I, page 154;
Davenport's Art Reference 2001/2002, page 507;
Redicovering Some New England Artists 1875-1900, pages 185-201;
Boston Art Club 1855-1950,
Vose Galleries, page 70;
Leslie Whiting Poitras.

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