A Finding Aid to the Charles E. Waltensperger Papers,
, in the Archives of American Art

Collection ID:
Waltensperger, Charles E., 1871-1931
Physical Description:
1.2 Linear feet
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
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)

Biographical Note
Biographical Note
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.

Processing Information
The papers were processed to an intermediate level by Jean Fitzgerald in April 2007.
Jean Fitzgerald
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.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Charles E. Waltensperger papers, 1893-1931. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Restrictions on Access
The collection is open for research. Use requires an appointment.
Terms of Use
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Illustrators -- Michigan -- Detroit Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketches Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters -- Michigan -- Detroit Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gérôme, Jean Léon, 1824-1904 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Académie des beaux-arts (France) -- Students Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001