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 Walter Alois Weber  (1906 - 1979)

About: Walter Alois Weber
 

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Lived/Active: Illinois      Known for: wildlife painting, illustration

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Walter Alois Weber (1906-1979)

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Weber developed his talent for drawing at an early age and used to sell his drawings at a local tavern so he could buy soda pop.  He showed an interest about animal and plant life early on and had collections of whatever living things he could catch and keep: beetles, squirrels, crows, ants, mice, raccoons, and turtles, for instance; together with plants from their natural habitat.

Naturally he studied zoology and botany when he went to the University of Chicago; he graduated from there as a Phi Beta Kappa with a B.S. degree in 1927.  He received his art education at the Church School of Art, the American Academy of Art, and the Chicago Art Institute.

At age 22, Weber joined the staff of the Chicago Field Museum (now the Chicago Museum of Natural History) in 1928 as a scientific illustrator.  His travels for the museum led him to every continent except Antarctica: he was artist and ornithologist for the Crane Expedition to the South Pacific in 1928-29; made an expedition to Bermuda in the winter of 1930 to paint fish for Mr. Cornelius Crane-, in the summer of the same year he went to British Columbia to study under the late Major Allan Brooks, the well known bird artist who did many series for the National Geographic magazine.  The two men worked together for four months, much of the time in the field; this was invaluable experience for the young man who was then developing his own style.

From 1931 to 1933, Mr. Weber was biologist and artist for the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago, and after that became a free-lance artist for two years, specializing mainly in commercial illustration and advertising art.

Mr. Weber organized and painted backgrounds for the biological exhibits at the Texas State Memorial Museum in 1936, and after that work was done he went to Washington as a wildlife technician with the National Park Service.  In 1941 he transferred to the staff of the U. S. National Museum and in 1942 was sent to southern Mexico (Tabasco and Vera Cruz) as ornithologist on a Smithsonian Institution-National Geographic Society Expedition.

In March of 1943, Mr. Weber began free-lancing again, and late in that year he did the watercolor painting that was chosen for the 1944-45 duck stamp.

From 1943 to 1949, Mr. Weber remained a free lance artist and in 1949 he accepted the position as staff artist and naturalist for the National Geographic Society.  He spent many months each year in the field, doing research and painting.

On April 18, 1967, Mr. Weber received the highest civilian honor the U. S. Department of the Interior can bestow: the Conservation Service Award. Department's Assistant Secretary Stanley A. Cain made the presentation.

Secretary Cain said, "As staff artist for the National Geographic Society, you are truly one of the outstanding wildlife and nature artists in the nation today.  You acquaint persons in all walks of life with the conservation goals of this Department and inspire them to a wider interest in our native wildlife."

Source:
Russell Fink Gallery

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