Walter Stuempfig was one of Philadelphia’s most highly regarded painters of the mid-twentieth century. He is known primarily for his landscapes of the Philadelphia area and the shores of New Jersey, and his work is often pervaded with a sense of poetic melancholy that has led to his frequent classification as a “romantic realist.” Stuempfig was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1914. He graduated from the Germantown Academy in 1930 and enrolled first at the University of Pennsylvania before transferring to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1931. Stuempfig spent three years at the Academy under Henry McCarter, Daniel Garber, and Francis Speight. In 1934, he won the William Emlen Cresson Memorial Travel Scholarship for study abroad. Stuempfig later returned to the Academy as a faculty member in 1948, and he remained an influential instructor there until 1970.
Stuempfig traveled frequently to Europe, and he was deeply influenced by the European masters, particularly Poussin, Caravaggio, and Corot. After his wife’s death in 1946, he devoted himself completely to painting. For most of his career, Stuempfig exhibited with the New York gallery of Durlacher Brothers, and in 1947 the Corcoran Gallery purchased his painting “Two Houses” which had won second prize in the biennial competition that year for contemporary American paintings. Stuempfig died in 1970 at the age of 56, after a long illness. Today, his paintings can be found in many private and public collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., and the Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.