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 Frederick Dielman  (1847 - 1935)

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Lived/Active: Connecticut/New York / Germany      Known for: genre, figure, portrait, mural and allegory subject painting

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Ad Code: 3
Frederick Dielman
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Library of Congress:
Frederick Dielman (1847-1935) is best remembered for his allegorical mural paintings and mosaic murals, especially the mosaic* panels in the Library of Congress.  He also created a large mosaic, Thrift, in the Albany New York Savings Bank; six mosaic panels in the State Capitol buildings in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Des Moines, Iowa; and, seven mural paintings for the Evening Star building in Washington, D. C. (1902, destroyed).

In 1894, when Dielman received his Library of Congress commission for the Law and History mosaics, it may have been his first experience to provide large-scale designs in this medium for an architectural setting.  When Dielman set up his first studio in New York in 1876 after four years of art study in Munich, he was a figure painter and an illustrator of deluxe editions of works by Hawthorne, George Eliot, Longfellow and Tennyson.  Dielman also painted genre scenes, landscapes and portraits, and he was apparently at ease working in various media -- pencil, ink, etching, watercolor, oil, and even painting on ceramic tile.

He was born in Hanover, Germany, and came to Baltimore as a child, receiving his formal education at Calvert College in that city, graduating in 1864.  He was a topographer* with the United States Engineers from 1866 to 1872, and participated in a survey of the canals in the Allegheny Mountains of Virginia.  He may have had a natural artistic talent as it is recorded that he published his first drawing, A Confederate Raid in Maryland, at age sixteen.

Dielman returned to Germany in 1872 to receive his formal art training at the Royal Academy of Munich*, where he studied under Wilhelm von Diez (1839-1907), a genre painter and illustrator known for his historical depictions of the Thirty Years War.

The rigorous academic training Dielman received is evident in the technical skill of his drawings, etchings and portrait paintings, but his landscapes and mural studies have a freshness and freedom of brushwork that is very modern.  The colors are in a higher key typical of artists of his generation who were very much aware of the impressionist* style that emerged in Paris in the 1870s and 1880s.  Many artists who had received their training in Munich or Paris were Dielman's friends and colleagues in the Tenth Street Studio Building* at 51 West 10th Street in New York where Dielman maintained a studio from 1881 to 1888 and again from 1900 to 1906.

The previous generation of artists who occupied studios in this building were principally landscapists of the Hudson River School, the most famous of whom was Frederick Church (1826-1900) who maintained a studio there from 1858 to 1889, but the Studio Building was infused with new life and vigor by William Merritt Chase (1849-1916) whose flamboyant personality and influential style dominated studio life there during his long tenure from 1878 to 1895.

Frederick Dielman, Chase, and most of the other artists in the Tenth Street Studio, were members of the National Academy of Design* in New York, Dielman having been elected an associate in 1881 and a full academician in 1883.  Many art clubs and organizations were initiated by artists in the Studio Building, and Dielman was not only a member of many of these organizations but held administrative positions in them as well.

Dielman was a founding member of the Society of American Artists* in 1877, and was a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters*, the American Water-color Society*, the Salmagundi Sketch Club, the Etching Club, the Mural Painters, and the Tile Club*.  He was President of the National Academy of Design from 1899 to 1909 and President of the Fine Arts Federation* of New York from 1910 to 1915.

A much loved professor of art, Dielman taught at the Arts Students League* of New York from 1878 to 1886, 1897 to 1898, and 1899 to 1903.  He then taught descriptive geometry and drawing at the College of the City of New York from 1903 to 1918.  Dielman was also the Director of the Art Schools of the Cooper Union* in New York from 1905 to 1931, though he began lecturing there in the Women's Art School in 1895.  The Cooper Union had an annual enrollment of 2000 students, and Dielman taught both the day and evening classes, retiring only at the venerable age of 84.  It is believed that he taught more American art students than any other art professor and a testimonial from one of his former students leaves no doubt that he was revered.

In 1883, Frederick Dielman married Lilla Marion Benham, the daughter of Major General Henry Washington Benham, U. S. Engineers, a graduate of West Point in 1837.  Today, Dielman's portrait of his father-in-law is in the United States Military Academy, West Point Museum.  Three children were born to Dielman and his wife, one of whom became a painter and sculptor, Ernest Benham Dielman.  When Frederick Dielman died at age 87 on August 15, 1935, at his home in Ridgefield, Connecticut, he was the oldest member of the National Academy of Design. Though Dielman lived in Connecticut for 35 years and maintained a studio in New York for 50 years, he was buried in New Windsor, Maryland, northwest of Baltimore.

Source: (03/13/00)
Library of Congress

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