Frederick Carl Frieseke

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About this artist

Frederick Carl Frieseke was the most internationally acclaimed American impressionist during the first two decades of this century. Frieseke trained at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Art Students League in New York, and in 1898 at the Académie Julian in Paris with Jean-Joseph-Benjamin Constant (1845-1902) and Jean-Paul Laurens (1838-1921). He is reputed to have also received instruction from James McNeili Whistler (1834-1903). Whistler may have influenced Frieseke’s early figure paintings, which are somber tonal studies. Frieseke first visited Giverny in 1900 and summered there often after that. By 1904 his art had been transformed by impressionism as he became fascinated with light and air. Although he was a neighbor of Claude Monet (1840-1926) in Giverny, Frieseke focused on the figure, as did Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), whom he most admired of all the impressionists. Frieseke set his models -- almost always women or women and children -- in flowering gardens, capturing the transitory nature of the sun filtering through the trees or flickering on various surfaces. Frieseke is best known for his images of the nude, painted with short, vigorous strokes and in brilliant, saturated hues that are almost expressionist in quality. He also depicted the intimate domestic life of women in numerous boudoir images.

Frieseke began exhibiting internationally in 1901, was given a solo exhibition at the 1909 Venice Biennale, and had his first extensive showing in the United States at the Macbeth Gallery in New York in 1912. In 1920 he bought a summer house in Le Mesnil-sur-Blangy in Normandy, and around this time his style changed: his figures, always solidly rendered, became even more so as his fascination with decorative patterns diminished. Frieseke’s palette also became more somber, and his brushstrokes softened as he enveloped his figures in a quiet atmosphere. Frieseke remained in France for his entire career, continuing to find his wife and daughter his favorite subjects to paint.

Clara MacChesney, "Frederick Carl Frieseke: His Work and Suggestions for Painting from Nature," Arts and Decoration 3 (November 1912): 13-15 § Index 20th Cent. Artists 4 (March 1937): 401-8; reprint, pp. 695702 § Allen S. Welter, "Frederick Carl Frieseke: The Opinions of an American Impressionist," College Art Journal 28 (Winter 1968): 160-65 § Savannah, Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences, Frederick Frieseke, 1874-1939, exh. cat., 1974, with text by Moussa M. Domit, chronology § San Francisco, Maxwell Galleries, A Retrospective Exhibition of the Work of F. C. Frieseke, exh. cat., 1982, with preface by Nicholas Kilmer, introduction by Ben L. Summerford, excerpts from unpublished memoirs by Frances Frieseke and the artist, chronology.