Carl W. Peters


Birth name Aliases
Carl W. Peters None
Birth date Birth place
1897 Rochester, NY USA
Date of death Place of death
1980 Rochester, NY
Known for
American Scenic/Regionalist murals and paintings
[WWW]Distinguished Artists Series
[WWW]Perinton Historical Society
[WWW]RH Love Galleries

Carl W. Peters was a well-known American Regionalist painter. He was born in Rochester in 1897 and in 1911 moved to a small farm in Fairport, which inspired in him a deep love of rural scenery. As an adolescent he also drew much inspiration from the new Memorial Art Gallery and had established his own studio in Rochester by age seventeen and described himself as an "artist" in the city directory.

With the outbreak of World War I Peters left high school to attend the Mechanics Institute, now the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he studied anatomy, perspective, and illustration. After his brief overseas service he moved to New York City and became an art student. Having grown fond of the art colony life, he moved to Gloucester, Massachusetts in 1925.

Like many artists in the 1930s, Peters was involved with the Public Works Art Projects. As the Great Depression left less funds to spend on smaller, easel-bound paintings, murals were popularized for their innately public nature. Peters painted at least two murals in the Rochester area: one at the Genesee Valley Trust Company Building, known today as the Times Square Building, and [WWW]another at the former Fairport Public Library, now the Fairport Historical Museum (run by the Perinton Historical Society). The former was 25 feet long and was called Rochester Past, Present, and Future. Painted in 1930, it was Peters's first mural and is contemporaneous with those of Thomas Hart Benton, Boardman Robinson, and D. Putnam Brinley (Brooklyn . . . Yesterday . . . Today and Tomorrow). All four of these artists dealt with American historical iconography that contributed to the resurgence of murals in public spaces. Many murals of the Depression Era, including Peters's, are distinguished for their American history themes as opposed to the old "timelessness" of earlier murals by Ezra Winter and LaFarge. Alas, Rochester Past, Present, and Future is no longer with us, possibly due to building renovations. The one in the Fairport Historical Museum, however, is still intact.

For the remainder of his career, until his death in 1980, Peters would divide his time between a studio in Fairport, near the Erie Canal, and Rocky Neck at Cape Ann. He was the very first recipient of the [WWW]Lillian Fairchild Award from the Memorial Art Gallery and was active in the Rochester Art Club.

A collection of Carl W. Peters Papers is available for viewing at the [WWW]Department of Rare Books & Special Collections of Rush Rhees Library, University of Rochester.

Reference: Richard H. Love, Carl W. Peters: American Scene Painter from Rochester to Rockport (University of Rochester Press, 1999)



Note: You must be logged in to add comments