This small collection of scattered papers of painter and illustrator Charles E. Waltensperger measures 1.2 linear feet and dates from 1893-1931. Papers include biographical material, scattered correspondence between family members, sales records, engagement diaries, notes, sketches of the human form, printed material, and photographs of Waltensperger, his family, colleagues, and travel scenes.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of painter and illustrator Charles E. Waltensperger date from 1893-1931 and measure 1.2 linear feet. Biographical material includes passports and membership cards, including one for the Scarab Club. Letters are generally from members of the Waltensperger family discussing travels. One letter from Waltensperger briefly mentions his studies at the Académie des Beaux Arts and his instructor, Jean-Léon Gérôme, "who is perhaps the best that ever happened. He is very severe and no fancy stuff goes with him." Business records consists primarily of receipts, but also include account books documenting sales. Also found within the papers are annotated engagement diaries, notebooks that contain addresses, notes about art, and annonated sketches, and miscellaneous notes. There is one folder of Waltensperger's artwork consisting of sketches of the human form. Printed material including clippings and exhibition catalogs relating to Waltensperger and others. Photographs found here are of Waltensperger, his family and friends, and scenes from his travels.
The collection is arranged as 8 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1905-1931 (Box 1; 2 folders)
Series 2: Letters, 1899-1931 (Box 1; 19 folders)
Series 3: Business Records, 1925-1931 (Box 1; 4 folders)
Series 4: Engagement Diaries, 1914-1931 (Box 1; 6 folders)
Series 5: Notes and Writings, 1913-1931 (Box 1; 8 folders)
Series 6: Artwork, circa 1890-circa 1930 (Box 1; 1 folder)
Series 7: Printed Material, 1896-1931 (Box 1; 19 folders)
Series 8: Photographs, circa 1890-circa 1930 (Box 1, 2; 25 folders)
Charles E. Waltensperger was born on April 10, 1871 in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Emily and Fred Waltensperger, a merchant.
Waltensperger studied art at the Julius Melchers School with fellow students Joseph Kraemer, Myron Barlow, and Fred Leipziger. While working as an elevator operator for the Detroit Free Press, Waltensperger made sketches of the passengers. This attracted the attention of publisher William E. Quinby, who was so impressed with his drawings that he paid Waltensperger's tuition at the school of the Detroit Museum of Art.
During the early 1890s, Waltensperger exhibited his work in a competition at the Detroit Institute of Arts and was awarded a James E. Scripps scholarship that financed his art studies for two years in Europe. He studied both at the Académie des Beaux Arts under Jean-Léon Gérôme, and at the Académie Julian in Paris in 1893. Upon his return to the United States, Waltensperger was employed as a commercial artist and worked as an illustrator for the Detroit Free Press. He also illustrated books written by M. Quad, the pseudonym of humorist Charles Bertrand Lewis.
Waltensperger later established his own studio and turned his interest to creating oil paintings, primarily of Dutch interiors. He traveled extensively in Europe and in New England. He was a member of a group of Detroit artists known as the Hopkin Club that held exhibitions at the Old Detroit Museum of Art before they established the Scarab Club.
Waltensperger never married and during the last five years of his life, ill health forced him to curtail his travels. He died of a heart attack on December 12, 1931 in Detroit.
The Charles E. Waltensperger papers were donated in 1973 by the artist's brother, George Waltensperger, through Mrs. Beverly Bassett who was conducting a survey of Michigan artists. In 1979, two photographs and two letters were donated.
The collection is open for research. Use requires an appointment.
The Charles E. Waltensperger papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.