Marcus Waterman

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Marcus Waterman
Born1 September, 1834
Died2 April, 1914
Madero, Italy
EducationThomas Hill and William Morris Hunt
Known forPainter

Marcus (sometimes Mark) Waterman (1 September 1834 – 2 April 1914) was an American painter, mainly of landscapes[1] and Orientalist subjects.[2]


Waterman was born in Providence, Rhode Island to William Henry and Martha Burrill Pearce Waterman; he had a brother, William Clarence Waterman, who survived him.[3] He graduated from Brown University in 1857 and moved to New York, where for twenty years he kept a studio in the New York University building.[1] His training is unclear; some sources claim that he was entirely self-taught,[1] while others, including Waterman himself, claim that he either worked with or was influenced by Thomas Hill and William Morris Hunt.[2] Before moving to New York he was part of a group of "art enthusiasts" in Providence, including Thomas Robinson, John N. Arnold, James M. Lewin, and Frederick S. Batcheller;[3] Robinson would go on to be a friend of his for many years.[2] Waterman is known to have attended a life drawing class at the National Academy of Design during the 1858–1859 academic year. In the former year he began exhibiting at the Academy as well, a habit which he kept up as long as he lived in the city.[1] Early on he chose to specialize in landscape painting, and many of the pictures he showed at the Academy were in this vein.[1] He was elected an associate of the Academy in 1861.[2]

In 1874 Waterman accompanied a group of painters including Hunt on a sketching trip along the Massachusetts coast, and as a result resettled in Boston,[1] where he would remain until moving to Italy.[3] He spent much time traveling in the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s; among his destinations were the Netherlands, France, southern Spain, and North Africa.[1] Visiting Algiers was a revelation to the artist, and he said in an 1894 interview that "for the first time he felt at home".[2] Having first visited in 1879, he returned there a second time, staying between 1884 and 1886.[2] He continued depicting American subjects as well, favoring the beaches of Cape Cod and the mountains of Vermont.[1] Waterman married an Italian woman, and in the first decade of the twentieth century he relocated with her to her home country;[1] he died in Italy, in Madero,[3] and is buried in Swan Point Cemetery in Providence.[4]

Waterman was described after his death as a man of broad intellect and a deep thinker, something of a philosopher; he was said to hold the average American art buyer in contempt, and was well-off enough to enjoy the art of painting for itself, rather than for any pecuniary reasons.[3] He was a member of the Paint and Clay Club of Boston, of the American Watercolor Society, and the Artists Fund Society.[1]


Though Waterman was primarily a painter of landscapes, he turned his hand to other genres at times during his career. An early attempt was a self-portrait of 1861, presented to the National Academy of Design upon presentation of his diploma the following year. He bore no fondness for the work, and a 1906 letter detailing his opinions of the painting survives:[1]

I regret to confess that I am the guilty party who painted the frightful portrait in question. I never saw it but once since I did it & it filled me with horror & remorse. If there is any survivor of the scores of painters who were friends of mine in New York some fifty years ago, he will oblige me by taking the said painting & giving it a good glaze of ivory black, wiping out a spot somewhere & thus converting it into a Whistler. I was a boy in my twenties when I did it & had never painted a head before. I hope I may be forgiven.

The self-portrait, too, survives, in the Academy's collection.[1]

Waterman turned to Orientalist subjects after his visits to Algiers, and his paintings in this arena have been described as "rather literary"; many of them depict scenes from The Arabian Nights, while others are based on landscape studies made during his travels in Oram, Algiers, Andalusia, and the Sahel.[2] It was already noted during his career that his paintings, though praised by critics, were out of step with trends in the contemporary artistic scene; within three years of his death his work was described as "old-fashioned" when it was shown in Boston.[2] Even so, at his death he was remembered by one writer as "the greatest colorist this country has produced, and far and away the greatest painter of light."[3]

Besides the National Academy, museums which include work by Waterman in their collections include the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston,[5][6][7] the Addison Gallery of American Art,[8] the Worcester Art Museum,[9] the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum, the Boston Public Library,[10] and the Indiana University Art Museum.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l David Bernard Dearinger; National Academy of Design (U.S.) (2004). Paintings and Sculpture in the Collection of the National Academy of Design: 1826–1925. Hudson Hills. ISBN 978-1-55595-029-3.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Gerald M. Ackerman (1994). American Orientalists. pp. 233–. ISBN 978-2-86770-078-1.
  3. ^ a b c d e f The Brown Alumni Monthly. Brown University. 1914. pp. 277–.
  4. ^ Marcus Waterman at Find a Grave
  5. ^ "Hillside in Autumn". Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  6. ^ "Wood Interior". Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  7. ^ "Interior of a Wood: The Past and the Present". Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Worcester Art Museum". Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  10. ^ "Marcus Waterman – Fine Art Museums for Marcus A. (Mark) Waterman". Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  11. ^ "Indiana University Art Museum: The Grand Tour: Image Details". Retrieved 2 May 2015.

External links[edit]