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 Frederick Crowninshield  (1845 - 1918)

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Lived/Active: New York/Massachusetts / Italy      Known for: landscape painting, stained glass windows, educator

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Frederic Crowninshield is primarily known as Frederick Crowninshield

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Ad Code: 3
Frederic Crowninshield
from Auction House Records.
Classical Ruins
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A painter, illustrator, teacher, craftsperson and writer, who had studios in New York City and Stockbridge, Massachusetts, Frederick Crowninshield had specialties of  mural decoration, stained glass, easel painting and teaching. As a young man, his schooling included Boston Latin School and Harvard College, from which he graduated in 1866. Within the next two years, he married short-story writer, Helen Fairbanks, studied briefly with William Rimmer, and left for Europe, where he stayed for more than a decade.

He served in Rome, Italy as Director of the American Academy, Rome* from 1909-1911.  He was a teacher at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts from 1879 to 1885, and also was an author whose books included Mural Painting, A Painter's Moods as well as other volumes of verse. 

He studied with Thomas Rowbotham in London; Jean Achille Benouville, in Rome; and in Paris at the École des Beaux-Arts* with Alexander Cabanel; and Thomas Couture at Villers-le-Bel.  He also spent three years studying fresco painting in Siena. He utilized this training in future writing and lecturing on mural painting, which he advocated as doing directly on the wall with fresco instead of a more common practice of affixing painted canvases on walls.

In 1878, he returned to Boston and with Otto Grundman, taught at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.  Among his students were Robert Reid, Frank Benson and Edmund Tarbell.  He also operated a school in Richmond, Massachusetts, where Daniel Chester French was briefly a student.

Crowninshield moved to New York City in 1886, and established a reputation for mural and stained glass designs and writing, which included five volumes of poetry plus art-related books and articles.  In 1888, his book, Figure Painting Applied to Architecture, was published, and in 1890-1891, Scribner's Magazine carried his writings about his recent visit to Italy in which he participated as part of an art-instructional trip sponsored by Columbia University. As a muralist, he executed decorations for the Waldorf Hotel.

Memberships included the Architectural League,* 1886; National Society of Mural Painters*; Copley Society*; Fine Arts Federal, New York; American Institute of Architects; and Century Associated. His election to the National Academy of Design occurred in 1905, but four years later he resigned because of perceived slights of not advancing quickly to full Academician. The Academy Council never officially acknowledged his resignation, but he terminated all related activities, having taken the Directorship of the American Academy in Rome.

He only served two years in the Directorship, 1909 to 1911, but but as an admirer of the Italian Renaissance, Crowninshield lived the remainder of his life in Italy, writing and painting oil and watercolor landscapes and architectural subjects.  He died in 1918 at Capri.

Among his exhibition venues were the Paris Salon*, 1878; Boston Art Club*, 1881; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts*, 1883, 1885; and Art Institute of Chicago*, 1906.

John Davis, "Frederic Crowninshield", Paintings and Sculpture in the Collection of the National Academy of Design, 1826-1925. David Dearinger, Editor

Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information is from Donald Kurtz of Art Nouveau Associates.

"Crowninshield, Frederic.  Painter.  Born Boston, 1845, died in 1918. Studied  art, France and Italy.  Specialty, mural painting and stained glass windows; also landscapes in oils and watercolors.  Instructor of drawing and painting, Museum of Fine arts, Boston, 1879-85. Director American Academy in Rome. Academy of National Arts. Member: National Society Mural Painters; National Institute Arts and Letters. The Boston Museum of Fine Arts owns his "Perugia" painted 1911, "Taormina", 1913, and "Capri Cliff" 1916. Elected Associate Member of National Academy in 1905."

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