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Walter Ufer was four years old when his family left Germany for America, settling in Louisville, Kentucky. He later trained and worked in Germany before returning to the United States, where he studied and taught in Chicago for some dozen years. His last stay in Germany, from 1911 to 1913, just preceded World War I.
In 1914 Ufer was “discovered” by Chicago’s mayor, Carter H. Harrison II, who, along with his syndicate of German American businessmen, sponsored three trips for Ufer to Taos, New Mexico, over the next two years. There, Ufer was immediately successful, particularly at painting Taos Indians. Despite this, his sponsors encouraged him to go to New York, the city “where American reputations are made.”
In late 1918, from the apartment window of a friend of another patron, William H. Klauer (who eventually purchased this work), Ufer created a bird’s-eye view of the Battery district in lower Manhattan. The sunny, wintry scene of hustle and bustle includes an army recruiting office in one of the buildings. The fiercely patriotic artist crowned his depictions of the buildings with fluttering American flags.
This was the most successful of Ufer’s non-New Mexico paintings. He soon returned to Taos, where he remained until his death.
from Snite Museum of Art, Selected Works: Snite Museum of Art (Notre Dame, 2005)