The Uses of Wealth

Date Created
Work Medium
11 ft x 7 ft x 3 in
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Historical Context
These two large allegorical paintings originally hung in the Grand Haven State Bank in Grand Haven, Michigan. Commissioned in 1910, the paintings decorated the bank’s main room, their lunette (half-moon) shape chosen specifically to anchor the ends of the distinctive coffered, barrel-vault skylight.

Both paintings serve as allegories on wealth – its creation and its use. Wealth is shown deriving from agriculture, fishing and industry, such as mining. The benefits of wealth are celebrated through higher education, the fine arts and music. The artist modernized the classical themes with the addition of a small, localized vignette portraying the Grand Trunk Western Railroad steaming along the shore of Lake Michigan.

Both lunettes were painted by noted Grand Rapids artist, Mathias Alten (1879 – 1938). They were removed from the bank during renovations in the 1970s. In 1995 they underwent conservation by the Detroit Institute of Arts prior to being donated to the Grand Rapids Art Museum.
Lunette mural includes two men, four women, and an angel like child floating above the rest. Around the people is a structure of a building. a shield and musical instruments.
Gift of Old Kent Bank; transfer from the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

Painting Origin

Grand Haven