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American, 1874-1939

Lady Trying on a Hat, 1909

oil on canvas
signed and dated lower right "F.C. Frieseke - 1909"
63 3/4 x 51 in. (161.9 x 129.5 cm.), Frame: 69 x 56 1/2 x 3 1/4 in. (175.3 x 143.5 x 8.3 cm.)

  • Provenance: The artist; to Alexander Morten (probably), in 1910; to [Sale: American Art Association, New York, 29 January 1919, lot 88]; to [Macbeth Gallery, New York, in 1919]; to Paul Schulze, Chicago, Illinois, in 1919; to The Art Institute of Chicago, by gift in 1924, until the present
  • Exhibited: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Carnegie Institute, "Thirteenth Annual Exhibition of Paintings", 1909, no. 117; New York, New York, National Academy of Design, "Winter Exhibition", 1909-1910; Chicago, Illinois, Art Institute of Chicago, 1919-1924, on loan; Chicago, Illinois, University of Chicago, Quadrangle Club, April 16 - December 13, 1923; Savannah, Georgia, Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences, and elsewhere, "Frederick Frieseke: 1874-1939", November 5 - December 5, 1974, no. 25; Oslo, Norway, American Ambassador's Residence, American Art Collection, June 20, 1985 - June 20, 1987; Roslyn Harbor, New York, Nassau County Museum of Art, "Normandy and Its Artists Remembered: A 50th Anniversary of the Invasion", June 12 - September 11, 1994; Savannah, Georgia, Telfair Museum of Art, and elsewhere, "Frederick Carl Frieseke: The Evolution of an American Impressionist", March 20-June 3, 2001, no. 20.
  • Literature: Carnegie Institute, "Catalogue of the Thirteenth Annual Exhibition", exhibition catalog, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1909, n.p., no. 117; National Academy of Design, "Winter Exhibition", exhibition catalog, New York, 1909, n.p., no. 105; "The artist's notebook", 1910, n.p.; American Art News, Vol VIII, no. 14, January 13, 1910, "Winter Academy Sales," p. 3; American Art Association, "Paintings by the Late Alexander Morten", exhibition catalog, New York, 1919, n.p., no. 88, illustrated. N. Kilmer, "Frederick Frieseke: 1874-1939", exhibition catalog, Savannah, Georgia, 1974, pp. 22-23, no. 25, illustrated; Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago Vol. 19, No. 1, Jan., 1925, "The Walter H. Schulze Memorial Gallery of Paintings," p. 8; The Art Institute of Chicago, "The Walter H. Schulze Gallery of American Paintings", pp. 5-7, 18 (illus.), 19; Richard J. Boyle, "American Impressionism" (1974), pp. 194-5, illustrated; W.H. Gerdts, "American Impressionist", New York, 1984, p. 262, fig. 344, illustrated; Ambassador R.D. Stuart, Jr., Mrs. R.D. Stuart, Jr., eds., American Art Collection, exhibition catalog, Oslo, Norway, 1986, pp. 18-19, illustrated; R.H. Love, "Louis Ritman from Chicago to Giverny: How Louis Ritman Was Influenced by Lawton Park and Other Midwestern Impressionists", Chicago, Illinois, 1989, p. 138, no. III, 11-12, illustrated; Nassau County Museum of Art, "Normandy and Its Artists Remembered", exhibition catalog, Rosyln Harbor, New York, 1994, pp. 52-53, 81, fig. 11, illustrated; N. Kilmer, et al., "Frederick Carl Frieseke: The Evolution of an American Impressionist", exhibition catalog, Savannah, Georgia, 2001, p. 144, no. 20, illustrated.
  • Notes: Born in Owosso, Michigan, the second-generation German-American, Frederick Carl Frieseke would be educated at the Art Institute of Chicago before spending much of his career working in France. He joined the growing colony of artists in Giverny, where his meditations on soft filtered light wedded an advanced Impressionist color theory. Like other American Impressionists, his favored subjects were women at leisure and bath, including the motif of a nude in a pastoral setting.

    "Lady Trying on a Hat" was likely painted in Giverny, where the Frieseke family spent their summer from 1905 through 1919. The Frieseke house, previously home to fellow American Theodore Robinson, was next to Claude Monet's. 1909 was hugely successful year for the artist as he was represented at the Venice Biennale with nearly twenty paintings, in addition to showing at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, and the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where the present work was shown, likely for the first time.

    A month after the Carnegie Institute show, Frieseke brought "Lady Trying on a Hat" to the National Academy in New York at the Winter Exhibition [December 11, 1909- January 9, 1910], his second of many appearances at the Academy. Alexander Morten bought the painting from the National Academy for a reported $1,000 [American Art News, Vol VIII, no. 14, January 13, 1910, "Winter Academy Sales," p. 3]. Paul Schulze, head of then Schulze Baking Company of Chicago, purchased the work from a sale at the American Art Association in New York in January of 1919. Hostilities in Europe had recently been concluded, and Paul's son Walter was an air core pilot. Five months after Paul acquired the painting, Capt. Walter H. Schulze's airplane crashed while he was dropping leaflet copies of the Treaty of Versailles to troops in Germany, June 28, 1919 [Paul Schulze, Jr., Captain Walter H. Schulze, The Peace Messenger 1893-1919 (1925)]. Paul Schulze gave a group of American paintings to the Art Institute of Chicago in Walter's memory in 1924. Frieseke's "Lady Trying on a Hat" was among these, constituting the second Frieseke in the Institute's collection. It was installed on the east wall of gallery 47 [The Art Institute of Chicago, The Walter H. Schulze Gallery of American Paintings, p. 5].

    The Art Institute of Chicago's bulletin favorably compared the work to that of J. Alden Weir: "Another student of feminity represented is Frederick C. Frieseke. Like Weir, Mr. Frieseke has been strongly influenced by the French Impressionists and especially by Monet and Renoir. He likes the play of light in garden or boudoir, the billowing of fluffy garments, the fluttering of hands; he likes to catch women seriously absorbed in their frivolous pursuits, as in this 'Lady Trying on a Hat.'"

    Tags: oil painting, listed artist, American Impressionist / American Impressionism
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