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 Gustavus Frankenstein  (1827 - 1893)

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Lived/Active: Ohio / Germany      Known for: landscape, portrait, panorama and marine painting

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Milky Lake, Alps
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Germany around 1827, Gustavus Frankenstein was a landscape painter, mathematician author, botanist, clockmaker, and art teacher.  He was one of the children of Gustav Ludwig Frankenstein, and a part of a family of German immigrant artists that included John Peter (circa 1816-1881), Godfrey N. (1820-1873), George, John Peter (died 1902), Marie (1822-1900) and Eliza (1828-1919.  The family arrived in Cincinnati in 1831 when Gustavus was age two, and they moved to Springfield, Ohio, in 1849 when he was 22..

All of the Frankenstein children showed talent and interest in drawing and painting. By the time the family moved to Springfield, Ohio, Gustavus had gained experience in the trade of clock making.  He worked as a typesetter until the early 1850’s, when brother Godfrey enlisted his help with the Niagara Falls project, which was a huge panorama that became a popular public show in the 1850s.

Gustavus would emulate his brother, Godfrey, in choosing his subjects from nature. He also spent time with another brother, George, in Louisville, Kentucky in 1851. Later he joined his siblings in Springfield, where he taught art classes at the local female seminary. 

In 1867, he painted floral scenes of the heather in Wales and later traveled to Switzerland to paint with his brother Godfrey.  During this period he held a position as a correspondent for the Cincinnati Commercial Gazette.   He also lived in Florida, Hawaii, and Bermuda before returning to Springfield, Ohio.  He stayed there for the remainder of his life, and built a studio near the family home and continued his clock making.

After Godfrey’s death in 1873, Gustavus was left alone in the family homestead with his high-strung sisters and took refuge for a time in the “pre-eminently beautiful” world of mathematics, producing a book in 1875 called Magic Reciprocals: Involving a New, Wonderful and Beautiful Theorem.  His last recorded landscapes were three panoramic views of Springfield completed in 1891.  With his sisters he returned to Cincinnati in 1893, and died there before the year was out.

Mary S. Haverstock, Timeline, Ohio Historical Society, March – June 2003 (Submitted by Edward Bentley, Art Researcher, Lansing, Michigan
Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art

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