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 Frank Duveneck  (1848 - 1919)

/ DOO-ven-eck/
About: Frank Duveneck


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Lived/Active: Ohio / Germany/Italy      Known for: portrait, figure, landscape paintings, etchings, art education

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BIOGRAPHY for Frank Duveneck
1848 (Covington, Kentucky)
1919 (Cincinnati, Ohio)

Ohio / Germany/Italy

Often Known For
portrait, figure, landscape paintings, etchings, art education

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Impressionists Pre 1940
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915
Paris Pre 1900
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Covington, Kentucky, Frank Duveneck had the birth name of Frank Decker. He became a well-trained academic painter whose work ranged from single figures in interiors to plein air canvases of figures in landscape and often included the depiction of low-life persons.  His styles included Realism, Social Realism, and Impressionism, and his work was ever influenced by the dark tones and vigorous brush-strokes of the Munich style, which he learned at the Munich Academy in the 1870s.  Art historian Matthew Baigell described Duveneck's mature style as having "loose highlights brushed over ruggedly blocked-out forms emerging from a richly suggestive chiaroscuro." (106)

He apprenticed to a church decorator, Wilhelm Lamprecht, in Cincinnati, and worked in Catholic Churches in Covington, Cincinnati, Latrobe, Pennsylvania and Quebec, Canada.  At age 22, entered the Royal Academy of Munich where he intended to further his interest in church decoration but instead veered to fine-art painting on canvas.  One of his most influential teachers was realist Wilhelm von Diez, and Duveneck, also impressed by the realism of French painter Gustave Courbet, became known for adopting this revolutionary approach with rich brushwork.  In Munich, Duveneck shared a studio with William Merritt Chase.

Returning to Cincinnati, he painted portraits and decorated churches and also taught art classes.  At first he did not gain much attention, but an exhibition in Boston in 1875 gained him good attention.

In 1875, he went back to Europe and opened an art school in Munich and also in Poling in Bavaria, and many Americans who became known as "Duveneck's Boys," studied with him.  Several years later, he opened his school in Italy where he spent the winters in Florence and the summers in Venice.  In 1879, he and his followers went to Venice where he began etching and briefly shared a studio with James Whistler in order to learn from him.  He also did sculpture.  During this period, his painting changed drastically from dark interiors with heavy, impasto paint to outdoor, plein air painting in much lighter colors giving the appearance of sunlight.  Among his students was the future Impressionist painter John Henry Twachtmann, and also Elizabeth Boott, whom he married in 1886 and who died two years later.

In 1888, he returned to Cincinnati where from 1900 he taught at the Cincinnati Art Academy.  He spent the summers in Gloucester, Massachusetts painting impressionistic landscapes and seascapes, and he also made many return trips to Italy, France, and Germany.

The Cincinnatti Museum is the major recipient of his paintings as he took a strong, active interest in that entity.

Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art
Matthew Baigell, Dictionary of American Art

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Frank Duveneck, Ohio is listed as an Honorary Commissioner in the Official Fine Arts Catalogue of the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition held in Omaha, Nebraska 1898.  On page 65 of the same catalogue he is listed as an exhibitor of Siesta.

Noted beside his name in the same exhibition catalogue "Teacher in Cincinnati Museum of Art.  Member Western Artists' Association."

Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska holds one of Duveneck's paintings, Portrait of an Old Actor.  This painting is of Joseph Jefferson, III.  The Jefferson acting family (three generations) was represented by Abraham Lincoln, when he was a lawyer, for contracts and theatre productions.

Information submitted by Janet G. Smith, researcher and art educator from Omaha, Nebraska

Biography from Owen Gallery:
Frank Duveneck was born on October 9, 1848 in Covington, Kentucky.  After painting for several years in Kentucky under Johann Schmitt and Wilhelm Lamprecht, the young artist set sail for Munich in 1869 in order to study art at the Bavarian Royal Academy.  Duveneck was quite successful, and as early as 1872 painted his most celebrated canvas,  Whistling Boy (Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio).

In late 1873, Duveneck returned to the United States, but by 1876 was back in Munich. It was during the 1870s in Germany that Duveneck painted many of his best works--dark, brushy portraits for which he is now revered, including The Cobbler's Apprentice (The Taft Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio) and He Lives by His Wits (Private Collection).

In 1886, Duveneck married Elizabeth Boott, against her father's advice.  Boott was an accomplished artist in her own right.  However, in 1888, in Paris, the happy marriage came to an abrupt end with Elizabeth's untimely death.

The following year, Duveneck moved back to the United States, settling in Cincinnati, Ohio, which became his primary city of residence for the remainder of his life.

Duveneck's late paintings are typified by an Impressionist technique in contrast to his earlier work.

Biography from The Caldwell Gallery :
Frank Duveneck was born in 1848 and was a highly influential teacher of the late 19th century. He studied at the Munich Royal Academy from 1870-73, where he lived and worked the majority of his life. Except for returning to Cincinnati in 1874, he traveled between Munich, Venice and Florence until 1888. Duveneck taught many students in Florence as well in Boston until he joined the staff of Cincinnati Art Academy, where in 1905, he became Dean.

Duveneck was a realist painter working in a robust Munich style who also showed some attributes of the Ashcan School. The light and color of Italy influenced Duveneck and his work became brighter and smoother in brushwork. Duveneck bequeathed his collection to the Cincinnati Art Museum when he died in 1919.

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