Ad Code: 3
from Auction House Records.
PORTRAIT OF HARRIETT BROWNE BIVENS, circa 1830
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|The son of a maker of carriage bodies, James Frothingham was born in
Charlestown, Massachusetts, near Boston in 1786. He began his
life as a chaise painter in his father's chaise factory, where he
taught himself to paint the finished coaches. He experimented in
sketching and taught himself the principles of portraiture. By
1806, he had become a professional painter, after receiving minimal
instruction from an obscure student of Gilbert Stuart named Fabius
Whiting, a younger artist based in Lancaster. |
began his training by painting portraits of family members; by about
age 20 he had abandoned the carriage-making trade for full-time
portrait work. During this early stage of his career he visited
Gilbert Stuart, who was to have a profound influence on his later
development. Although unimpressed by Frothingham's first efforts,
Stuart eventually helped Frothingham, who later incorporated elements
of Stuart's style into his own work, especially the transparent flesh
tones. Frothingham also tended to avoid the slick finish of
mid-century portraiture, keeping alive the more painterly English
manner domesticated in America by Stuart. A prolific artist,
Frothingham rarely indicated background elements in his portraits, but
concentrated instead on capturing an alert gaze and a general sense of
liveliness in his sitters.
Before moving to New York City in
1826 with his wife and three children, he painted in Boston and Salem,
Massachusetts for more than a decade. Soon he began exhibiting at
the Boston Athenaeum (despite his recent move) and the National Academy
of Design. The latter institution elected him an associate member
in 1828 and a full academician in 1831. He served as its
corresponding secretary in 1844. Frothingham was particularly active
during the 1830s, but his production fell off at about age 60. He
spent the last two decades of his life in Brooklyn, where he died in
1864. His daughter Sarah became a painter of miniatures.
of his portraits are owned by the City of New York; several others,
including that of the poet William Cullen Bryant (1833) are in the
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts. James Frothingham
died in 1864.
Matthew Baigell, Dictionary of American Artists
Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art
* Dunlap 1834, 2:212-217.
* Tuckerman 1867, 61-62.
Kelly, Franklin, with Nicolai Cikovsky, Jr., Deborah Chotner, and John
Davis. American Paintings of the Nineteenth Century, Part I. The
Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue.
Washington, D.C., 1996: 232-233.
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