Historical Note


In a review of a 1977 retrospective exhibit of Earl Horter, the writer credited the artist as having a critical role in introducing modern art to the Philadelphia area through his own works, collection and teachings. Born in 1881 in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, Horter gained his earliest experience in the graphic arts working for a stock certificate engraver. He later made a living as an illustrator and commercial artist, working for the advertising agency of N.W. Ayer. At the same time, he privately created etchings of architectural subjects. Horter eventually left behind his commercial practice to pursue painting in oil, watercolor and aquatints. By the 1930s he began teaching at the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, University of Pennsylvania Night School, the Graphic Sketch Club and the Tyler School of Fine Arts of Temple University. Horter avidly collected French moderns, as well as Native American art. At one time he owned 22 Picassos and approximately 1,500 American Indian relics. Major museums that acquired Horter's own artworks included the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA), the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Chicago Art Institute and New York's Metropolitan and Whitney Museum. Almost sixty years after his death in 1940, PMA examined Horter's influence on and by modern art. In that 1999 exhibition, "Mad for Modernism: Earl Horter and His Collection," 100 objects that Horter acquired during the 1920s and 1930s and that were dispersed after his death, were reunited. The collection consisted of European and American modern art, African sculpture and Native American artifacts.