Arthur Meltzer

American, 1893 - 1989
Arthur Meltzer was born in Minneapolis, on July 31, 1893, the first child of Louis E. and Cecelia Fineberg Meltzer. Some three years earlier, his parents had emigrated from Lithuania to the United States. He attended North Side High School in Minneapolis. Because no classes in art were offered at North Side, he chose manual training instead, learning the skills he would use later to craft his own frames and furniture. He supplemented his high school courses with a Saturday art class taught by Robert Koehler at the Minneapolis School of Arts.

After graduation from high school in 1911 Meltzer apprenticed at the Ford and McNutt Stained Glass Company. The proprietor had told him that every beginner started out at $5 per week, but Meltzer was paid $6 per week. Even then, it seems, his exceptional artistic ability was recognized. He stayed with the stained-glass company for six years, then enlisted in the army at the outbreak of World War I.

Near the end of Meltzer's two-year stint in the army, a fellow soldier who was also an artist encouraged him to seek formal study at either the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, or the Art Students League in New York. Meltzer had intended to return to Minneapolis and open a stained-glass studio, but he decided to attend the Pennsylvania Academy, in part because he had an uncle living in Philadelphia. He enrolled at the academy in the fall of 1919 and studied with Daniel Garber, Joseph T. Pearson Jr., Hugh Breckenridge, Robert Vonnoh, and Arthur B. Caries. After studying at the academy for two years, Meltzer was awarded the coveted William Emlen Cresson Traveling Scholarship. He then traveled and painted in Europe, and also visited major museums and galleries in England, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, and Italy.

In 1924 Meltzer joined the faculty of the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (now Moore College of Art and Design). As head of the Fine Arts Department, he taught painting and drawing, and was a lecturer in anatomy. It was there that he met his future wife, Paulette van Rockens, an accomplished artist and also an assistant professor of drawing and painting at the school. Born in France, she had come to the United States as an infant with her parents. She and Meltzer were married on June 15, 1927, on the condition, he said, that "I'd find a house with a fireplace." Both went on to become beloved figures at Moore College.

They actually did find a one-hundred-year-old stone farmhouse near Trevose in Bucks County with not one but two fireplaces, and they spent several years restoring and repairing it. Meltzer made and installed the pine wall paneling, carved finials for the balcony and staircase, and scallop-carved the cherry windowsills.

From 1922 to 1946 Meltzer frequently exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy, winning their Fellowship Prize in 1925. He received honorable mentions at the Philadelphia Sketch Club from 1924 to 1927 and at the Philadelphia Art Club in 1926. In 1922 his work was exhibited at the National Academy of Design in New York; in 1925 at the Art Institute of Chicago; and in 1926 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts (now the Columbus Museum of Art), Ohio. Around 1931 the William H. Benton Museum at the University of Connecticut purchased one of his works. He continued to exhibit at various venues in the Philadelphia area, including the Woodmere Art Gallery (now the Woodmere Art Museum) and the Phillips Mill Art Association in New Hope.

In 1949, after nearly a quarter century at Moore College, Meltzer resigned so that he could concentrate on his own painting. He now had unlimited hours to "hold a mirror up to nature and to help others see the beauty an artist sees." During the next forty years he continued exhibiting and receiving awards. In 1977 he and his wife celebrated fifty years of marriage.

On July 3, 1989, Meltzer died at Abington Memorial Hospital. He was ninety-five.

Biography courtesy of Roughton Galleries, www.antiquesandfineart.com/roughton
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