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 Walter Van Den Hengel  (1877 - 1941)

About: Walter Van Den Hengel
 

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania      Known for: figure, genre, landscape

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Walter van den Hengel is primarily known as Walter Van Den Hengel

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Walter Van Den Hengel
An example of work by Walter van den Hengel
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Ivyhill Gallery:
Walter van den Hengel was born on Christmas Day 1877 in Utrecht, Holland. During his youth, he trained as a nurseryman with a formal apprenticeship in the Horties-Botannical Gardens in Amsterdam. His next few years were spent in England and Holland working at his craft.

Walter immigrated to America by way of Canada about 1909 and secured a job in Georgia. From there he went to the firm of Blackstone, Inc. in Washington, D.C. as a decorator designer. Here he became friendly with a German-American landscape artist Max Weyl. The two men worked together often, and Weyl encouraged Walter to take his painting seriously and give it his full time. Walter by this time had a family to support, but continued to paint and draw in every spare minute.

The Philadelphia firm of J. J. Habermehl and Sons heard of Walter’s work and hired as their head floral designer. By 1918, Walter opened his own retail flower shop in Overbrook, later expanding the business to several more locations. With a fine reputation, he was commissioned to be the designer of the Glendenning rock garden in Fairmount Park, a well-publicized WPA project of the 1930's. Walter also became a frequent exhibitor at the Philadelphia Flower show, with his designs and artistry drawing critical acclaim.

He managed to paint and take art courses at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, primarily at the Summer Classes offered in Chester Springs, PA. His teachers included Daniel Garber and Joseph T. Pearson, Jr.. The Philadelphia artist Fred Wagner noted in a clipping of the time -. - . "Walter van den Hengel is among the strongest showing and among his several exhibits is a huge landscape entitled 'Pickering Valley' which is promising of some original and important results." He exhibited at the Academy art shows in 1917-18-19 and 1925, 1929 and 1935.

His colors are bold and very reminiscent of other members of the Pennsylvania School; his landscapes reveal his impression of the unique warmth of the Chester County countryside.

During the early 1930's, he moved near Valley Forge, PA. It was the Van den Hengel farmhouse, barn and a particularly attractive springhouse that are the subject matter of many of his pastels and oils. His friendships included Frederick Harer, the framemaker, from whom Walter purchased several frames. He also painted a number of works in the vicinity of his shop in the Overbrook section of Philadelphia.

His mediums were oil, pastel or watercolor. In 1941, Walter van den Hengel died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 63.

Examples of his work can be found at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Woodmere Art Museum, both in Philadelphia.

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