Frederick C. Frieseke
(Owosso, Michigan, 1874 - 1939, Le Mesnil-sur-Blangy, France)
Frieseke had a traditional academic art education over the course of three years as a student at the Art Institute of Chicago and one year at New York’s Art Students League. The following year, at age twenty-three, he moved to Paris. There he studied at the Académie Julien and with James Abbott McNeill Whistler and was exposed to impressionism, the dominant contemporary painting style. Frieseke’s canvases depicted landscapes, cityscapes and the figure. He painted primarily from memory and studies rather than from life, a practice that would change following his 1905 marriage to American painter Sarah (Sadie) O’Bryan.
In 1906 the couple bought a house adjoining the estate of Claude Monet in Giverny, a rural village northwest of Paris. In Giverny, inspired by Monet and other artists who had settled in that popular American art colony, Frieseke devoted himself to painting the female figure from life. Capturing the “purity of color and truth of light” became his goal. Whenever possible, he painted his models outdoors to capture the luminescence, warmth and transient effects of sunlight. In inclement weather, he posed his models casually lounging in elegant boudoirs where the decorative patterns of the fabrics and wallpaper reveal a love of pattern. His wife, Sadie, often chose and arranged such studio props, and often served as Frieseke's model. Whether depicted in domestic interiors or lush private gardens, Freiseke's beautiful and contemplative female subjects represent an ideal of femininity that was very popular with the growing leisure class in the United States.