Painter Walter Elmer Schofield did not live in the age of flight, or easy international travel, but between the years of 1902 and 1937 he crossed the Atlantic Ocean more than forty times for his work. He kept himself active in both the European and American markets, and seemed never to settle in one area of the world for very long. Though this provided him with an endless array of subjects for his "plein air" landscapes, it would take a toll on his family which saw him only for a few short months during each year.
He was born in 1867 and had suffered frail health in his youth. His father sent him west to live and work on a ranch during his seventeenth year. This was not suitable for the young artist, though it did provide him with the material for his first paintings.
He returned to his hometown of Philadelphia, where he entered the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1889. After graduating he went to Paris and enrolled in Julian's Academy to study under such masters as Bouguereau and Doucet, and during which time he would travel to Brittany and the Fontainebleau to indulge in his Impressionist enthusiasm.
By 1894 he had returned to the United States, but found the work in his family's business intolerable, and once again headed back to Europe. With several friends he would bicycle through Paris, Holland and Belgium, taking in the Dutch masters whenever possible. He married in 1897, and spent a brief time with his bride in the United States before relocating to England.
Schofield would always be, primarily, a landscape painter and the work he did around his home of St. Ives in Cornwall drew him a great deal of attention. Additionally, he began to use large canvases that introduced an element of panorama into his bold paintings.
From this point in his life until the 1930s Schofield would divide his time between his home in England and the American exhibition schedule. Because of his frequent visits and many American subjects he would be seen as one of America's leading landscape painters, and one of its most significant Impressionists. Additionally he would earn an equal reputation internationally, winning awards at the Paris Salons, several international exhibitions, and throughout the United States. The Corcoran galleries staged three solo exhibitions of his work between 1912 and 1931.
During World War I Schofield would enlist in the Royal Army, though he was almost fifty at the time, and receive the rank of Major for his service. Between 1921 and 1937 he moved his family to various locations around England. Additionally this period also saw him traveling and painting in California, Arizona and New Mexico where his scenes of the American West drew him more acclaim.
He settled for a final time in Cornwall in 1938, and joined the St. Ives Society of Artists, whose exhibits soon received critical approval and popular interest. Schofield purchased a home in the area in 1941, and died there in 1944.
Known as an Impressionist landscape painter, Schofield's most recognized works are those of snow or winter scenery, laid heavily with bold and thick brushstrokes, or those paintings depicting rushing waters, where the movement is implied with long, fluid strokes.