Walter Emerson Baum

Road to Sellersville

  • 20 x 24 inches 50.8 x 61 cm
  • Oil on board
  • Signed lower right: WE Baum

Why We Love It

Baum painted a picture almost every day of his adult life and it appears that most of those paintings are still in existence. Consequently, the quality of his paintings can vary widely. However, Road to Sellersville is a very fine example of the Baum’s style and a quintessential depiction of the artist’s own hometown.

The Value

Because of the enormous range of quality in Baum’s paintings, prices for his works have been equally inconsistent. The old truism that one should seek to buy the best of any artist’s work is especially true in his case. Baum’s finest efforts deserve an honored place in any Pennsylvania Impressionist collection and this is one such example.

Artist Background

1884: Born in Sellersville, Pennsylvania; 1904-09: Studied art privately with William B.T. Trego; 1905-13: Attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he studied with Thomas Anshutz, Daniel Garber, and possibly Cecilia Beaux; 1918-26: Offered private art lessons from his home in Sellersville; 1925: Awarded Jennie Sesnan Gold Medal at PAFA; 1928: Established Kline-Baum School (later the Baum School of Art) in Allentown, Pennsylvania; 1920s-1956: Worked as art editor and critic for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin and the Philadelphia Sunday Bulletin; 1939: Acted as cofounder and first director of the Allentown Art Museum; 1956: Died at his home.

The only prominent artist of the Pennsylvania Impressionists who was native to Bucks County, Walter Baum spent his entire life there and painted the area’s landscapes and towns. In Road to Sellersville, Baum utilizes strong, confident brush strokes, bold colors and rich impasto to lend an exuberant air to his depiction of this local scene. His affinity for his native region allowed him to capture the beauty and the vitality of this typical Bucks County village.

Baum received his initial training in 1904 from William Trego, a skillful American painter of military scenes. In 1910, he entered the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he studied with Thomas Eakins and Thomas Anshutz. Daniel Garber, an influential member of the New Hope School and member of the Academy’s faculty, also influenced Baum’s work and style.

In 1936, Baum traveled to Southern Germany, France and Switzerland, where he painted local scenes and visited many museums. His trip was relatively short,though, as he was eager to return home and resume painting the scenery of the Delaware Valley.

Baum’s oeuvre of more than 2,000 works in oil, tempera, watercolor, and pastels, may be divided into two distinct groups, different both in style and subject. The majority of his work was landscape painting.  The remainder consist of cityscapes of Allentown and Manayunk, both in Pennsylvania. These paintings reflect small town atmosphere, depict local architecture and quaint streets. Although executed with the same lusty brushwork as his landscapes, the cityscapes display a greater intensity of pure color, with many of the buildings and other objects outlined in black.

Baum’s works are found in many public collections including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Syracuse University Art Collection, Allentown Museum of Art, Reading Public Museum, James A. Michener Art Museum, Butler Institute of American Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.