It was in France, where Martha Walter established herself as a plein air Impressionist of the first rank. For Martha Walter, like may young artists at the turn of the century, an opportunity to study abroad was the next and most vital step in an artistic career. At the insistence of her teacher William Merritt Chase, Walter entered and won the Cresson traveling scholarship. In 1903, courtesy of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, she traveled to Paris to begin classes at the Academie Grande Chaumiere and the Academie Julian. Walter soon found the rigid academic institutions rather stifling to her natural talents. Her French teachers saw in her, as did Chase, an innate ability and naturalness that would only be inhibited by academic reins. With her teachers’ blessing she was granted a special dispensation and allowed to pursue her studies out of doors in the French Countryside. Walters was soon sharing a studio with several other young American women and would remain in France until the outbreak of World War One, producing many of her most important works in her very independent and unique Impressionist style.
Martha Walters returned to the United States at the outset of World War I and gravitated to the artist colony of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Few artist colonies can equal the concentration of talent that passed through Gloucester during the early decades of the 20th century. The list of artists gravitating to this charming New England fishing village represents a roster of the most gifted American Impressionists working in the United States. She would return there frequently for the rest of her life.