Frederick W. Freer (American, 1849-1908)
Illustration for Eliot
Grisaille Watercolor on Paper
h: 15.75" x w: 10.75"
A painter and etcher Frederick Warren Freer was born in 1849 in Kennicott's Grove, Illinois, now part of Chicago.
He studied art in Chicago before attending the Munich Royal Academy under Wagner and Diez. He began sending work to exhibits at the Chicago Academy of Design (predecessor of the Art Institute of Chicago). Freer exhibited in the first Interstate Industrial Exposition art exhibition, and in 1876 he was elected to the Academy, a mark of his risinglocal reputation. On a second sojourn in Europe, between 1877 and 1880, Freer associated with some of America’s leading expatriate artists, notably Frank Duveneck, an influential exponent of the Munich style, and William Merritt Chase, a pioneer of American impressionist painting. He worked in every genre of subject matter and explored a variety of media, including etching, pastel drawing, and watercolor painting; in the late 1880s, he was even in demand as a book illustrator. Following a third trip abroad, Freer taught at New York’s Art Students League. In 1889 he was represented in the Exposition Universelle in Paris. Busy with local portrait commissions, he continued to exhibit nationally and to serve on juries, including the national art jury for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. At the world’s fair, he won a medal, one of several honors from exhibitions at the National Academy, the Art Institute, and other venues. Freer was among a handful of artists of his generation who maintained a national presence while living in Chicago. The artist’s successful career was capped by a retrospective show presented at the Art Institute in early 1906, two years before his death at age fifty-eight.
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