Frederick Ballard Williams

(Brooklyn, New York, 1871 - 1956, Glen Ridge, New Jersey)

North America, American

Williams was born in Brooklyn, New York, but grew up in Montclair, New Jersey. In addition to attending Cooper Union and the National Academy of Design, he also studied privately with John Ward Stimson, whose idealistic paintings exerted a strong influence on Williams’ fête champêtre themes. Williams also traveled to Europe twice, where he was greatly impressed by the painting of John Constable, the Barbizon School and the seventeenth-century Venetians. Around the turn of the century, the artist made his reputation painting dramatic, moonlit landscapes and stormy seascapes. He also became known for his fête galante and fête champêtre paintings, themes borrowed from French Rococo art. Using loose, richly impasted brushwork and luxurious colors, he established a mood of poetic reverie and sensual delight in these scenes of idealized figures in an idyllic outdoor setting. His dominant concern was the pursuit of ideal beauty: he believed that art was the expression of the most refined, elevated sentiments. In 1928 Williams was elected national chair of the American Artists’ Professional League, whose goal was to support and protect American art against the rising flood of modern paintings then being imported from Europe. He died in his home in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, in 1956.

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