Walter Elmer Schofield was born in Philadelphia. Between 1889 and 1892, he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. In late 1892 he went to Paris, where he enrolled at Julian’s Academy, studying under Bouguereau, Ferrier, Aman-Jean and Doucet. During his three years in Paris, he travelled to Fontainebleau and Brittany and was fired with enthusiasm for Impressionism.
In 1894, he returned to the States and tried to work in the family business but it did not suit him. He returned to Europe in 1895 with his charismatic and influential friend, Robert Henri, and fellow art student, William Glackens, and, from Paris, they cycled round Holland and Belgium to view the Dutch masters.
Schofield was primarily a landscape painter. He was influenced by the plein-air approach of the late 19th century, and through its influence he adopted a broader view and lighter palette. Commenting to his friend, C.Lewis Hind, on his new found enthusiam, he stated, “Zero weather, rain, falling snow, wind – all of these things to contend with only make the open-air painter love the fight…He is an open-air man, wholesome, healthy, hearty, and his art, sane and straightforward, reflects his temperament.”
Schofield always favoured the American exhibition circuit and American patrons and, as a result, during the first three decades of the twentieth century, he became regarded as one of America’s leading landscape painters and is now lauded as one of the most important of the American Impressionists.